WASHINGTON -- There is not a lot of wiggle room on the Nationals roster as the team prepares to head to West Palm Beach, Fla., this week for the start of Spring Training, which makes forecasting the 25-man roster an easier task. There will be a few position battles this
WASHINGTON -- There is not a lot of wiggle room on the Nationals roster as the team prepares to head to West Palm Beach, Fla., this week for the start of Spring Training, which makes forecasting the 25-man roster an easier task. There will be a few position battles this spring that could change the makeup of this roster -- for the fifth starter's spot and in the bullpen -- but the position-player group looks pretty set, barring injury.
So, MLB.com took a crack at predicting the 25-man roster before Spring Training.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Catcher (2):Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki
This position has been such a weakness for the Nationals ever since Wilson Ramos left in 2016, so the additions of Gomes and Suzuki should provide a major upgrade. No one has committed to any plans of how they will split playing time, but Gomes is likely to get the majority of the starts.
First base (2): Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Adams
Zimmerman is still the starter and, if healthy, which has been a big if in recent years, he is still a productive hitter. Adams will be the first left-handed bat off the bench and the Nats will try to make sure he gets at-bats regularly.
Second base (1): Brian Dozier
Washington is betting on Dozier as a bounce-back candidate after a down year in 2018. He will keep the second-base job warm until one of the prospects is ready to grab it.
Third base (1): Anthony Rendon
In the final year of his contract with Washington, Rendon is one of the most consistent players in baseball on both sides of the diamond.
Shortstop (1): Trea Turner
Turner played in all 162 games last season, made the final vote for the All-Star Game and is one of the best young shortstops in baseball.
Outfield (4): Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Adam Eaton, Michael A. Taylor
It will be an outfield without Bryce Harper for the first time in seven years, but one that still has the chance to be a very good outfield. Soto and Robles have an opportunity to become Nats staples for years to come. Eaton should be healthy, finally, and the team is still very high on Taylor.
Utility (2): Howie Kendrick, Wilmer Difo
Kendrick will move around the right side of the infield and could also play some corner outfield if needed, while Difo will serve as the backup on the left side of the infield. The Nats are also likely to get Difo reps in center field during Spring Training.
Starting pitcher (5): Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Aníbal Sánchez, Jeremy Hellickson
This veteran rotation should be the strength of this club. If Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin can each throw 170-200 innings, and Sanchez picks up about 130-150, the Nationals can be one of the best teams in the National League. The depth behind them is thin, but bringing in Hellickson as the fifth starter could push Joe Ross and Erick Fedde to the Minors as starting-pitching depth.
Relief pitcher (7): Sean Doolittle, Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle Barraclough, Wander Suero, Matt Grace, Koda Glover, Sammy Solís
Doolittle at the end of games is pretty close to a lock. The Nats are high on Rosenthal post-injury. After that, there are quite a few question marks. Barraclough was very good up until the second half of last year and the Nats love Suero. But after Grace, the last two spots are certainly not locks and this is where we could see the most change in the projected roster.
The Nationals have added during Spring Training in the past. Two springs ago, Matt Wieters was a late addition and last spring they signed Joaquin Benoit, although he got injured and never threw a pitch for them in 2018. With so many free agents left out on the open market, I would not bet against them seeking value to add someone else to this roster, the bullpen being the most obvious potential spot. So we will revisit this projection a few times as the regular season gets closer.
Michael A. Taylor
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.