Looking at the Nats' organizational depth chart

As we wait for the Nationals to put their offseason plan – whatever that plan ends up being – into action, it’s probably instructive to take stock of what they already have in place.

The organizational depth chart looks a whole lot different today than it did one year ago, and it basically bears zero resemblance to the one that existed two years ago. Consider this: Only 22 players who were on the 40-man roster on Opening Day are still on the 40-man roster. And out of that group, only 10 were on the 40-man roster on Opening Day 2021.

That’s a lot of change.

So, what’s left? A roster that has more young talent than it did a year ago, though most of it has yet to reach the big leagues. And plenty of holes that still need to be filled.

As you can see when you break the depth chart down position by position, the Nationals still have some work to do, both when it comes to short-term and long-term roster construction. (Note: Players not currently on the 40-man roster have an asterisk after their names.) …

Keibert Ruiz
Riley Adams
Israel Pineda
Drew Millas*
Brady Lindsly*

Comment: We actually thought the Nationals were loaded with catching depth for the first time in forever a year ago. That hasn’t quite proven to be true, with Adams and Tres Barrera (who recently elected to become a free agent after he cleared waivers) failing to establish themselves as quality big-league backups. But Ruiz does look like the real deal and should be the starter for years to come, and Pineda does appear to have potential, once he gains some more experience.

Joey Meneses
Luke Voit
Riley Adams
Will Frizzell*
Drew Mendoza*
Branden Boissiere*

Comment: There was always going to be change here, because Josh Bell was going to be a free agent, whether he was traded at the deadline or not. After giving Voit the bulk of the starts at first base in August, he shifted to designated hitter down the stretch, opening the door for Meneses to take over at what looks like his more natural position. Things could still change by Opening Day, but for now it seems like Meneses will be the guy at first base.

Luis García
Ildemaro Vargas
Jake Noll*
Darren Baker*

Comment: Four months of García at shortstop was more than enough to convince everyone García is not a shortstop. He’s a second baseman, and the job is his for the foreseeable future. Vargas is a solid backup at all three infield positions. Noll is still around but no longer on the 40-man roster. Baker has outperformed his reputation so far in the lower levels of the minors. If he can do it again this season, he might just thrust himself into the conversation before long.

CJ Abrams
Ildemaro Vargas
Lucius Fox
Jackson Cluff*
Brady House*
Jordy Barley*

Comment: The Nationals believe Abrams is the long-term answer at shortstop. He’s still young, still raw, but his skills are undeniable. Now he needs to harness them all, avoid mistakes and show he can be a quality big leaguer for an entire season. If he doesn’t work out, the backup options aren’t great. Fox was a surprise member of the 2022 Opening Day roster, then disappeared and never returned. Cluff is a defensive whiz who has not shown he can hit in the minors. House is expected to move to third base someday, but first the 2021 first-round pick needs to show he can stay healthy through an entire professional season.

Carter Kieboom
Ildemaro Vargas
Lucius Fox
Jake Alu*
Trey Lipscomb*
Sammy Infante*

Comment: Get ready for yet another opportunity for Kieboom to prove he deserves the starting third baseman’s job. It’ll be the fourth straight spring he has this opportunity, and you’ve got to believe it will be his last. Vargas stands ready to take over if needed, though the Nationals could seek some outside Plan B as well. Or maybe they’re willing to give Alu a shot after he posted some eye-popping numbers at Triple-A.

Yadiel Hernandez
Alex Call
Lane Thomas
Joey Meneses
Josh Palacios
Yasel Antuna
Donovan Casey*

Comment: It’s tough to imagine the Nats will enter the season with this group as-is. If there’s one spot in the lineup that seems like an obvious area for improvement, this is it. Hernandez hasn’t shown to be much more than a decent left-handed bat off the bench (and certainly not a strong defensive outfielder). Call exceeded expectations after his arrival, but he too looks like a fourth or fifth outfielder. Thomas was better in right field down the stretch. It’s possible Meneses could be moved out here if the club adds a first baseman instead.

Victor Robles
Lane Thomas
Robert Hassell III*
Donovan Casey*
Jeremy De La Rosa*
James Wood*

Comment: The job still belongs to Robles, but the cavalry is creeping up on him. Hassell is closest to big-league-ready out of the organization’s center field prospects, with De La Rosa and Wood a year or two behind. And we haven’t even mentioned Dominican sensation Cristhian Vaquero, who will make his American minor-league debut in 2023. The Nationals really want to believe somebody from this group is going to take over in D.C. eventually, ideally with someone else also making it as a corner outfielder.

Lane Thomas
Joey Meneses
Josh Palacios
Donovan Casey*

Comment: There’s no Juan Soto in this group, that’s for sure. But Thomas did play well following the trade deadline and showed off a strong arm that should make him the frontrunner in right field entering spring training. Meneses can play out there if needed. Palacios spent most of August and September in the majors but spent most of that time on the bench. Casey (one of the four prospects acquired from the Dodgers in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner trade) is no longer on the 40-man roster but remains in the organization.

Luke Voit
Joey Meneses
Yadiel Hernandez
Yasel Antuna

Comment: There’s no guarantee the Nationals will tender a contract to Voit. But if they don’t, that’s another significant roster hole to fill. And given how many good bat/poor glove players they already have, you wouldn’t think they’d want to be in market for another.

MacKenzie Gore
Cade Cavalli
Josiah Gray
Patrick Corbin
Erick Fedde
Stephen Strasburg (injured)
Cory Abbott
Paolo Espino
Joan Adon
Jackson Tetreault
Evan Lee
Tommy Romero
Seth Romero
Cole Henry*
Jake Irvin*
Gerardo Carrillo*

Comment: This isn’t your father’s Nationals rotation. It’s certainly not your older brother’s rotation. The club is banking on a new Big Three of Gore, Cavalli and Gray. All three have potential. None is a sure thing yet, though. Corbin is still here for another two seasons, no matter how bad his numbers have been. Fedde is a candidate to be non-tendered, but the right-hander also could be brought back because of a lack of other established pitching options. Who knows if Strasburg will figure into the equation again at this point? A whole lot of others have been given an opportunity to start games in the big leagues over the last two years, nobody asserting himself and seizing the opportunity. But unless the Nats spend money on a veteran or two, they will continue to need to rely on some of these guys for rotation depth in 2023.

Kyle Finnegan
Carl Edwards Jr.
Hunter Harvey
Andres Machado
Sean Doolittle*
Mason Thompson
Víctor Arano
Jordan Weems
Paolo Espino
Cory Abbott
Tanner Rainey (injured)
Reed Garrett
Zach Brzykcy*
Matt Cronin*
Jose Ferrer*

Comment: Who’d have thought the one area of the roster that legitimately looks talented and deep would be the bullpen? It’s true, though, even with Rainey out until late-summer while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Finnegan, Edwards Jr. and Harvey made for a very effective late-inning trio, and Machado and Thompson had some encouraging performances as well. Doolittle returns on a minor-league deal, with a good chance to make the roster as long as he’s healthy. There are no shortage of other options for the Nationals to turn to for depth along the way, which is a refreshing change of pace around here.

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