The Nationals optioned six players to their Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, as per a team announcement. Right-hander Erick Fedde and catcher Tres Barrera are heading to Triple-A Fresno, while outfielder Andrew Stevenson, infielder Adrian Sanchez, and right-handers Kyle Finnegan and James Bourque are all going to Double-A.
Finnegan is the only member of the group who hasn’t seen any Major League action, with Barrera (two games) and Bourque (one game) each getting a cup of coffee in the bigs last season while Fedde, Sanchez, and Stevenson have all been somewhat regular members of Washington’s roster.
Fedde is perhaps the most prominent name in the group, owing to his status as the 18th overall pick of the 2014 draft. His pro career got off to a delayed start due to the Tommy John surgery he underwent just a month before that draft, and despite some solid numbers in the minors, Fedde has yet to break out after pitching in parts of the last three seasons. Over 143 2/3 career MLB innings, Fedde has a 5.39 ERA, 1.62 K/BB rate, and a 6.4 K/9. That latter statistic is largely fueled by a 4.73 K/9 over 78 innings in 2019, as Fedde missed very few bats but still managed a 4.50 ERA due to an impressive 51% grounder rate. Fedde has consistently posted high grounder rates both in the majors and minors, though he has also run into problems with the long ball against big league hitters, with a career 20.9% homer/fly ball rate.
The Nationals went into Spring Training with Fedde, Joe Ross, and Austin Voth all competing for the fifth starter role, though Fedde was facing something of an uphill battle since he was the only one of the trio who still had a minor league option remaining. Fedde did at least help his cause with some good spring numbers, posting a 2.45 ERA and seven strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings of work.
It seems very likely Fedde will still play a notable role in the Nationals’ 2020 title defense season, as the shortened schedule will require every team to deploy a number of pitchers to keep everyone fresh. The same will also be true on the position player side, so Stevenson and Sanchez (and quite possibly Bourque, Barrera, and Finnegan) are likely to factor into Washington’s plans.