Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that Nationals catching prospect Raudy Read has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for Boldenone — a substance that is banned under the league’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Read is on the Nationals’ 40-man roster, so the suspension creates an unexpected vacancy for the Nats.
“This is a very serious matter — one that I do not take lightly,” said Nationals GM Mike Rizzo in a statement on the matter. “We educate players across our system on the program and set the expectation that they fully abide by it. I am deeply disappointed in Raudy. I have spoken with him directly and he understands that he is ultimately responsible for what he puts into his body. In the end, I hope he learns from this experience.”
Read issued a statement via the MLBPA and, like many before him, expressed confusion as to how a banned substance could have gotten into his system. The 24-year-old notes that he’s been tested dozens of times and passed seven different drug tests over the course of the 2017 season (Twitter link via the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes). As MLB.com’s Jamal Collier points out (also on Twitter), Read is the first 40-man player for the Nationals to ever receive a PED suspension.
The suspension is a blow to an already thin area of organizational depth for the Nationals. Read enjoyed a solid season in Double-A last year, hitting .265/.312/.455 with 17 homers through 442 plate appearances, and he ultimately made his MLB debut late in the season. While he’s behind both Matt Wieters and Pedro Severino on the current depth chart (to say nothing of recent minor league signee Miguel Montero), Read certainly had a chance to reach the Majors and make an impact in 2018. ESPN’s Keith Law recently ranked him 14th among Nats farmhands, praising his power and plus arm behind the plate.
[Related: Washington Nationals depth chart]
The Nationals, of course, have already been tied to catching upgrades — most notably a pursuit of Marlins star J.T. Realmuto. While Read’s suspension isn’t likely to push them to radically accelerate their efforts to acquire a significant upgrade, his absence could theoretically push the Nats to add some depth at the position. Read’s absence from camp will enhance Montero’s chances of making the club, though it seems that Severino could have an edge in that race given the fact that he’s out of minor league options.