Who's still in camp, and what decisions still need to be made?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – They waited a bit longer than most teams to do it, but the Nationals did finally start making some cuts over the last week.

None of the names to date came as much of a surprise. These were mostly younger prospects who need to start getting more playing time in minor league camp or non-roster invitees who stood little chance of making the Opening Day roster in the first place.

The next round of cuts, which will likely come in a few more days, may include some more prominent names. We’re getting down to crunch time for Mike Rizzo, Davey Martinez and Co, who admittedly have some tough decisions to make as they pare the list down to 26 for the season opener.

Who’s still here? Officially, there are 45 remaining players in big league camp, but that’s a bit misleading. Six players are all but guaranteed to open the season on the injured list with ailments both major (Mason Thompson, Cade Cavalli, Stone Garrett, Stephen Strasburg) and minor (Jose A. Ferrer, Robert Hassell III).

So that leaves 39 healthy players competing for those final 26 jobs. Here’s a look at who’s left by position and what decisions still must be made. (Players with an asterisk after their names are on minor league contracts and would need to be added to the 40-man roster) …

CATCHERS (4): Keibert Ruiz, Riley Adams, Drew Millas, Israel Pineda*
Comment: There isn’t much to decide here, unless you believe Millas could beat out Adams to be Ruiz’s backup. While there’s a case to be made Millas is ultimately the better catcher, he probably would be better served playing most days at Triple-A Rochester than playing once or twice a week in D.C.

INFIELDERS (10): Joey Gallo, Luis Garcia Jr., CJ Abrams, Nick Senzel, Joey Meneses, Ildemaro Vargas, Nasim Nuñez, Juan Yepez*, Trey Lipscomb*, Brady House*
Comment: Barring the surprise inclusion of Lipscomb (who has looked good) and demotion of Garcia (who has been erratic), the first six names from this group are locks to make the team. The biggest question is whether the Nats keep Nuñez, who as a Rule 5 draftee must either stay on the major league roster all year or be offered back to the Marlins. Nuñez hasn’t hit much this spring, but he does appear to be MLB-ready in the field and on the bases, making him potentially a useful bench player. Yepez has enjoyed a nice spring, but there’s probably not much need for another backup corner infielder on this roster.

OUTFIELDERS (8): Lane Thomas, Victor Robles, Eddie Rosario*, Jesse Winker*, Jacob Young, Alex Call, James Wood*, Dylan Crews*
Comment: Thomas is the starting right fielder, and there’s every reason to believe Rosario will make the team as the primary left fielder. Winker has enjoyed a strong spring at the plate and could be part of a four-man rotation for three positions with Rosario, Gallo and Meneses. The center field job has been Robles’ to lose, and while he hasn’t blown anyone’s socks off, he does sport a .393 on-base percentage while playing solid defense and not making mistakes on the bases. Young has the skill set you’d look for in a fourth outfielder, and Call has quietly hit .407 this spring. But for either of them to make the team, either Winker, Robles or Nuñez would have to be left out.

STARTING PITCHERS (6): Josiah Gray, Patrick Corbin, Jake Irvin, MacKenzie Gore, Trevor Williams, Zach Davies*
Comment: The top four are set in stone, with Irvin currently lined up to start Game 3 in Cincinnati and Gore lined up to start the home opener against the Pirates. The fifth spot, by all accounts, is legitimately up for grabs. Neither Williams nor Davies has looked especially good this spring, so the decision might be made more on track record than anything. If Davies wins the starter’s job, Williams would be kept as a long man in the bullpen (where he might be more valuable anyway).

RELIEF PITCHERS (11): Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Tanner Rainey, Dylan Floro, Jordan Weems, Robert Garcia, Matt Barnes*, Derek Law*, Richard Bleier*, Jacob Barnes*, Joe La Sorsa*
Comment: These are probably going to be the toughest (and last) decisions to make. The first five listed names are going to make the team (if healthy). Martinez has talked up Garcia all spring, seemingly giving him a leg up on the other lefties in the mix. That would leave two more bullpen jobs among five non-roster invitees in camp (though it would only be one available job if Williams is bumped to the bullpen). Every single one of those guys has a case to make the team. A majority of them won’t make it.

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