Three veterans officially added to major league roster

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Nationals officially purchased the contracts of outfielders Eddie Rosario and Jesse Winker, plus reliever Matt Barnes, this morning, moving a step closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster.

Rosario, Winker and Barnes all made the club after coming to camp on minor league deals. They could be joined by reliever Derek Law, who appears to have made the team but hasn’t officially had his contract purchased yet.

Rosario, Winker and Barnes’ fates were determined Friday night when the Nationals optioned outfielders Alex Call and Jacob Young to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned reliever Jacob Barnes to minor league camp, settling those spring competitions for jobs.

Rosario and Winker join Lane Thomas and Victor Robles as the Nats’ four-man outfield to open the season. Manager Davey Martinez expects all to receive playing time, with Rosario playing both left and center fields, and Winker playing left field and serving as designated hitter at times.

“As I always say, things always play themselves out,” Martinez said. “I hope they both do really well. … They’re both going to help us, big time.”

Matt Barnes (the former Red Sox closer who was hampered by a hip injury last season with the Marlins) beat out Jacob Barnes, who didn’t make the club despite an 0.87 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings this spring. The 33-year-old right-hander will inform the Nats in the next 24 hours if he’s going accept his assignment to Rochester or attempt to sign with another organization.

“We like Matt,” Martinez said. “He’s healthy, and I know he’s pitched in some really high-leverage situations. He understands the role. The other guy was tough, because I really liked him. He had a good spring, and he worked on a lot of different things to be in the position he was in. He’s one guy I really believe will help us, for sure. …

“Selfishly, I hope he stays. But if he gets a major league job, it would be good for him and his family.”

With their outfield, catching corps (Drew Millas was optioned to Triple-A), rotation and bullpen now apparently set, the Nationals’ lone remaining decision is whether to keep infield prospect Trey Lipscomb. And if so, whose spot he would take.

Lipscomb, the 2022 third-round pick and Frederick, Md. native, has impressed all spring and enters today’s Grapefruit League finale sporting a .396 batting average and .955 OPS while playing well at third base, second base and shortstop.

In order for Lipscomb to make the club, though, the Nats would need either to offer Rule 5 draft pick Nasim Nuñez back to the Marlins or cut second baseman Luis García Jr. (who is out of options), third baseman Nick Senzel (who has options but is signed for $2 million) or utility man Ildemaro Vargas (who is out of options and was re-signed during the final week of the 2023 season)

“He’s making it hard,” Martinez said of Lipscomb. “As you know, I love the kid, and he’s done everything right. We still haven’t made that final decision, but he’s done really well. My biggest thing is: He’s got to play every day, as we all know. I’m going to sit and talk to (general manager Mike Rizzo) today, and the next couple days, and figure out what we’re going to do.”

The Nationals needed to clear two spots on the 40-man roster to account for the addition of the three veterans who made the team, and they did so by placing relievers Jose A. Ferrer and Mason Thompson on the 60-day injured list.

Ferrer, who suffered a left teres major strain in his upper back earlier this month, will need four to six weeks of rehab without picking up a ball. Thompson, who recently underwent his second career Tommy John surgery, will miss the entire season.

If Law and/or Lipscomb make the club, the Nationals will need to clear more 40-man roster spots. They can do so by placing Stephen Strasburg and Cade Cavalli on the 60-day IL. Cavalli, who had Tommy John surgery one year ago, is scheduled to start facing live hitters in early April and potentially begin a minor league rehab assignment in May that would have him back in the majors in June.

Outfielder Stone Garrett, who broke his lower left leg and injured his ankle last August, also will open the season on the IL. Garrett, who hoped to be ready in time for Opening Day, will accompany the team to Washington tonight and attend Tuesday night’s annual Homecoming Gala before returning to Florida to continue rehabbing at extended spring training.

Regulars get work in before Nats head north
Starting lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie

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