Nationals announce 60-man player pool for 2020

June 30th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals will get a glimpse into their future when they begin summer camp workouts for the 2020 season on Friday. The team announced its 60-man player pool on Sunday, and it features familiar faces as well as anticipated prospects.

Washington's player pool consists of 35 pitchers (25 right-handers and 10 left-handers), six catchers, 10 infielders and seven outfielders. Individuals must be in the pool in order to be used during the 60-game regular season. Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross were originally in the player pool, but on Monday, they elected not to play this season.

A noteworthy inclusion in the Nats' player pool is right-hander Jackson Rutledge, their first-round pick in the 2019 Draft. The 21-year-old is the club's No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and he had not been on Washington's Spring Training roster when camp was suspended earlier this year. Rutledge reached Class A Hagerstown in his first professional season.

In addition to Rutledge, the Nationals included several other top prospects in their player pool who had not been on their Spring Training roster in mid-March: left-handers Tim Cate (No. 8), Seth Romero (No. 9) and Matt Cronin (No. 10); right-handers Joan Adon (No. 16), Jake Irvin (No. 21) and Steven Fuentes (No. 24); and catcher Jakson Reetz (No. 28).

According to MLB's Operating Manual, all players on a 40-man roster “that the Club anticipates participating” during the season will be part of the player pool, while the rest will be made up of non-40-man roster players under contract. Any 40-man-roster players who are not included in a player pool (for example, maybe a prospect who isn’t deemed ready for the Majors) will still be paid during the season.

No team will be allowed to exceed the limit of 60 players in its player pool at any time during camp or the regular season.

The season will open on July 23 or 24 with 30-man active rosters. Players not in that group will be assigned to an alternate training site, likely a nearby Minor League affiliate ballpark. After two weeks, the Nationals' roster will be reduced to 28 players, then to 26 players after four weeks. A 27th player can be added for doubleheaders.

Up to three taxi squad players can be carried for road games. These players will be selected from the 60-man player pool, and they are options to replace injured players or those with COVID-19. One taxi squad player must be a catcher if all three spots are being utilized.

Here's a look at the players in the Nationals' player pool:

Pitchers (35): Fernando Abad, Joan Adon, Dakota Bacus, Aaron Barrett, James Bourque, Ben Braymer, Tim Cate, Patrick Corbin, Matt Cronin, Wil Crowe, Sean Doolittle, Roenis Elías, Tyler Eppler, Paolo Espino, Erick Fedde, Kyle Finnegan, Sam Freeman, Steven Fuentes, Javy Guerra, Ryne Harper, Will Harris, Daniel Hudson, Jake Irvin, Kyle McGowin, Kevin Quackenbush, Tanner Rainey, Seth Romero, Jackson Rutledge, Aníbal Sánchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Wander Suero, Austin Voth, Nick Wells, Austen Williams

The question remains whether the Nationals will go with a four-man starting rotation -- Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin and Sánchez -- or include a fifth starter. Last season, they implemented a combination of Ross, Erick Fedde and Austin Voth.

The Nats bolstered the back end of their bullpen this past offseason by adding Harris into the mix with Doolittle and Hudson. All three veterans can close games, which could give the team more late-inning options with a condensed schedule for the 60-game regular season.

Catchers (6): Tres Barrera, Welington Castillo, Yan Gomes, Raudy Read, Jakson Reetz, Kurt Suzuki

The reliable combination of Gomes and Suzuki will be back behind the plate for the Nationals this season. Like Spring Training, summer camp will provide an opportunity for the prospects to learn from these proven veterans.

Infielders (10): Asdrúbal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Wilmer Difo, Luis Garcia, Howie Kendrick, Carter Kieboom, Jake Noll, Brandon Snyder, Eric Thames, Trea Turner

The Nats entered Spring Training looking for a new starting third baseman, and that decision has yet to be finalized. Kieboom, the club's No. 1 prospect, was given an opportunity to earn the job after his first 11 big league games came at shortstop. If the Nationals don't think Kieboom is ready to man third at the start of the season, veteran teammate Cabrera could step into the role.

With the National League utilizing the designated hitter this season, Washington's DH could come from this group of infielders. Kendrick, whose postseason heroics helped lift the Nats to the 2019 World Series championship, is a top contender for the role. Thames and Cabrera could also be options.

Outfielders (7): Emilio Bonifácio, Adam Eaton, Yadiel Hernandez, Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Andrew Stevenson, Michael A. Taylor

Bonifácio and Stevenson were contenders in Spring Training to earn the 26th spot on the roster. Bonifácio’s defensive versatility would give the Nationals different looks in their lineup, while the left-handed Stevenson offers a potential fifth outfielder with pinch-hitting experience who could also serve as DH at times.