Washington Nationals’ insider Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) has published an article detailing what he thinks could be next for the team after the holiday break. Like most of the thirty teams in Major League Baseball, the Nationals have been quiet since before Christmas, but with the reporting date for pitchers and catchers just a little over a month away, it’s time for the final pieces to start falling into place.
Zuckerman’s analysis focuses primarily on bench pieces for the Nationals, specifically in the form of a backup catcher and another utility infielder. At catcher, the team will have Wilson Ramos as its primary backstop, but there are several options available behind him. While Jhonatan Solano came on after Kurt Suzuki was traded back to the Athletics in July, General Manager Mike Rizzo also inked Chris Snyder on a minor league deal and could be in on another free agent at a low price. Available free agent catchers include John Buck, Kelly Shoppach, Miguel Olivo, and Michael McKenry.
At the infielder position, Rizzo has a known factor in Danny Espinosa to put on the bench, but he may look to add more depth into new manager Matt Williams’ lineup. Espinosa struggled in 2013, earning himself a demotion to Syracuse and paving the way for Anthony Rendon to make an impact. Rendon now figures to be the club’s starting second baseman with extension-candidate Ian Desmond at shortstop.
The bullpen seems set, according to Zuckerman, featuring returning pieces Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Craig Stammen as virtual locks to make the 25-Man roster come Opening Day, but there are still three spots in the bullpen left and seven relievers vying for those spots.
Arbitration hearings and extension talks will also play a role in determining what the Nationals’ Opening Day lineup could look like.
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