The Nationals announced that they’ve designated outfielder Matt den Dekker for assignment as part of a series of roster moves. Den Dekker’s 40-man spot will go to left-handed reliever Sean Burnett, and the team has also selected the contract of right-hander Mat Latos, with righty Joe Ross moving to the 60-day DL to clear room. Washington has also recalled Pedro Severino, Brian Goodwin, Matt Grace, Rafael Martin and Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse.
Latos, 28, opened the season with the White Sox and pitched brilliantly in April before his production cratered in the May and June. After posting a 0.74 ERA through four starts (which came in spite of a 13-to-7 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings and was propped up by a .167 BABIP), Latos went on to yield 29 earned runs over his next 36 innings before being released by the South Siders. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since, though he’s thrown well in the Nationals’ minor league system, tallying a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings with Triple-A Syracuse. However, he’s still not missing bats even at Triple-A, punching out just 10 hitters against seven walks in those 17 innings. Latos figures to head to the bullpen initially, though he could get some spot starts in September with Stephen Strasburg and Ross currently on the DL.
Burnett, 34 in two weeks, will return to the Majors for the first time since 2014, though he only tossed two-third of an inning in that injury-shortened season. The veteran southpaw has thrown just 10 1/3 innings at the Major League level in total since he last donned a Nationals uniform back in 2012. Burnett’s career has been slowed by elbow injuries and Tommy John surgery, but he’s pitched well across four Triple-A stops this season (Dodgers, Braves, Twins, Nationals). In 47 1/3 innings at that level, Burnett has a 2.28 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Opposing lefties have batted just .213/.246/.279 against him in 65 chances this season, so he could be used in left-on-left matchups, which could prove vital to a team that has lacked quality left-handed relief.
Den Dekker, 29, had a solid season as a reserve outfielder for the Nats in 2015 when he batted .253/.315/.485 with five homers in 110 plate appearances, but he mustered just a .176/.282/.294 line in 19 games/39 plate appearances this season. Most of his 2016 campaign has been spent in Syracuse, where he’s hit .208/.290/.319. His overall numbers both in the Majors and minors are considerably better than his 2016 production (or lack thereof), and den Dekker is capable of playing all three outfield positions, so he could latch on elsewhere as a bench piece. If not, he should hold appeal to clubs on a minor league pact as a free agent this winter.
As a reminder, readers can head over to Roster Resource for a full list of transactions thus far since Sept. 1 roster expansion.