The Nationals announced they’ve selected the contracts of infielders Jordy Mercer and Hernán Pérez. First baseman Jake Noll has been designated for assignment to clear 40-man roster space. Washington also optioned five players to Triple-A: Carter Kieboom, Luis Garcia, Sam Clay, Kyle McGowin and Yadiel Hernández. Additionally, the Nats released Yasmany Tomás and T.J. McFarland from their respective minor-league contracts.
Today’s slate of moves lends some clarity to the Nationals’ infield plans. With Kieboom out of the picture, it seems Washington is prepared to turn to veteran Josh Harrison at third base on most days. Mercer and Pérez will be on hand as utility options to back up Harrison, Trea Turner and Starlin Castro around the dirt.
Mercer had a fairly lengthy run as a regular shortstop with the Pirates and Tigers between 2013-19. He signed a minor-league deal with the Nats in February and now locks in a $1MM base salary as a bench piece. He’s joined in that regard by Pérez, who is more familiar with a utility role. The 30-year-old previously bounced around the diamond quite a bit with the Brewers, where he flashed some power and speed but struggled to get on base consistently.
Noll, 27, hit well in the minors up to Triple-A. But he struggled there in 2019 and has only gotten 30 MLB plate appearances over the past two seasons. The Nats have a week to trade or waive him. Noll still has a minor-league option year remaining, so he brings some roster flexibility that could intrigue other clubs.
Tomás and McFarland signed non-roster deals with the Nationals over the offseason. The former was once a regular corner outfielder with the Diamondbacks but has barely played at the MLB level since 2017. The latter pitched in 23 games for the A’s with a 4.35 ERA/4.56 SIERA last season. They’ll now return to the open market. As Maria Torres of the Athletic points out (on Twitter), McFarland’s departure seems to suggest fellow non-roster invitee Luis Avilán will earn a season-opening lefty bullpen role.