Wood, Crews, House among cuts; Davies is released

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Nationals moved a step closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster this afternoon, cutting nine players from big league camp, including top prospects James Wood, Dylan Crews and Brady House.

Wood, Crews and House were reassigned to minor league camp, along with lefties Richard Bleier and Joe La Sorsa; infielder Juan Yepez, outfielder Robert Hassell III and catcher Israel Pineda. Zach Davies was granted his unconditional release, making the veteran right-hander a free agent and seemingly keeping the Nats’ rotation intact heading into the season.

The demotions of Wood, Crews and House did not come as a huge surprise. None was expected to make the club coming into their first big league camp, though Wood made a strong case for himself with a dominant first week and ultimately a .342/.491/.707 slash line in 21 Grapefruit League games, including a team-high four homers.

For all his success this spring, though, Wood (like the others) has yet to spend a day at Triple-A Rochester, where he is likely to open the season. The 21-year-old outfielder figures to be in line to make his major league debut sometime this season, provided he stays healthy and continues to perform on the field.

Crews and House, two of the Nationals’ last three first-round draft picks, each had some positive moments this spring, most recently Crews’ walk-off single to seal Thursday afternoon’s win over the Twins. But both also looked overmatched at times against big leaguers, with Crews finishing with a .161/.297/.323 slash line in 19 games and House finishing 7-for-28 with one homer, zero walks and five strikeouts.

The organization hasn’t announced minor league rosters yet, but Crews and House figure to return to Double-A Harrisburg, where they finished the 2023 season, before getting promoted to Triple-A in advance of potential big league debuts later this year.

Hassell, who enjoyed a strong spring (.357/.412/.786) in 12 games before suffering a minor groin injury, is expected to be healthy the first week of April. Having already spent the majority of last season in Harrisburg, he could begin the year in Rochester and be primed for his call-up at some point.

The only top prospect who now remains in big league camp is infielder Trey Lipscomb, who has opened eyes among the coaching staff and front office with consistently strong performances at the plate (.364/.429/.523) and in the field (at second base, third base and shortstop) this spring. The 2022 third-round pick has a real shot to make the Opening Day roster, potentially supplanting Luis García Jr. as the starting second baseman.

There are now 17 remaining healthy position players in camp, with perhaps four jobs still undecided: Backup catcher (Riley Adams or Drew Millas), one infielder (Lipscomb or Rule 5 draftee Nasim Nuñez, unless García is cut instead) and two outfielders (Victor Robles, Alex Call, Jacob Young, Jesse Winker, with non-roster invitee Eddie Rosario all but assured of a starting position along with Lane Thomas).

Today’s decision to release Davies, whose bid for a starting job got blown up by a ragged start Wednesday night that raised his spring ERA to 9.00, appears to finalize the Nationals’ season-opening rotation. Barring a late change or addition, the Nats will go with the same five starters they used most of last season: Josiah Gray, Patrick Corbin, MacKenzie Gore, Jake Irvin and Trevor Williams.

The final decision for club officials to make will come in the bullpen, which now only has nine remaining competitors for eight spots following today’s moves. Both Bleier (1.69 ERA, .0750 WHIP) and La Sorsa (1.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP) made compelling cases to be chosen as non-roster invitees this spring but wound up losing out to others. Robert Garcia (6.00 ERA, 1.778 WHIP) is the lone remaining left-hander in the mix.

Five right-handers (Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Dylan Floro, Tanner Rainey, Jordan Weems) figure to be safe. That would leave three veteran right-handers competing for the final two spots: Derek Law (0.00 ERA, 0.682 WHIP), Jacob Barnes (0.96 ERA, 0.964 WHIP) and Matt Barnes (0.00 ERA, 0.273 WHIP).

The Nationals are required to add Rosario, Winker and Matt Barnes to the 40-man roster by noon EDT Sunday, or else all three veterans have the right to opt out of their minor league contracts.

* The Nats announced ceremonial plans for their April 1 home opener against the Pirates, with a distinct D.C. flair to the festivities.

Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch will be former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams, who was instrumental in bringing the team to Washington in 2005. The “Play Ball” pronouncement will come from current D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser.

The national anthem will be sung by the always-popular D.C. Washington.

Split-squad lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals and Marlin...
Nats-Astros game canceled due to rain

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/