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.
They didn’t even give Kieboom a shot… he might benefit from more minor league time, but it could only really go up from where it was.
They gave Kieboom plenty of shots. He’s overmatched facing MLB pitching. He’s primarily a SS – and as a ML SS he’s well below average. He cant play 3B – a reaction position where the fielder stares at the plate as opposed to following the ball from the pitchers hand. He should have been at 2B, but that doesn’t get around the fact that he can’t hit (he’s 23, needs to grow and get stronger).
I pick the Nats for last place in the NLE. Both these cuts and the promotions tell it all. Seriously, Josh Harrison as a primary infielder? Nats need to do at least a rebuild on the fly….and if that doesn’t take…….
He’s had 165 plate appearances. Hardly “plenty of shots”
Hasn’t even been given 200 plate appearances at the major league level. How is that plenty of shots?
Please forget numbers.
Have you seen him bat? This guy seems to have a problem hitting a strong foul ball. He’s so overmatched it’s painful to watch. And he surely hasn’t done anything in the past few years in his offseason conditioning to make a a difference in his hitting.
This is even more concerning when you look at Rizzos’ track record of giving long leashes to young Nationals players – Michael A. Taylor, Andrew Stevenson. etc. Maybe they’ll give the young man a few years to grow. This is not the Pirates, doing a never-ending rebuild. They’re up against the luxury tax, they have to win (don’t see them doing that in the near future).
Apparently they like Jordy Mercer more, You should be familiar with him.
Yeah, and he (Mercer) sucks. Mercer at best is a 90 OPS+ guy with awful defense at shortstop. I’m looking at a very small sample size of plate appearances here and I’m not going to judge Kieboom on barely over 150 trips to the plate. I’m not suggesting he’ll be the Nationals’ next MVP Candidate, but it’d be really foolish to give up on a player before even trying and giving him regular playing time. You say that he’s been given “plenty of shots”, yet he’s only been given 5 plate appearances in a single game 8 of the 31 games he’s appeared in. That’s just barely over 25%. I’d rather see any team try and fail with a prospect rather than to not try at all.
Idk how long of a leash Stevenson has ever had. He rakes in AAA, comes up to the big and rakes some more. Been doing that for like 3 years now and he’s finally going to get his shot as a 4th outfielder. Danny Espinosa would have been a better comparison.
Horsy Mercer is not a poor defensive Ss and he is pretty heads up player. However, he’s not a hitter and not really a starter but not bad off the bench.
Looking like another AAAA player?
Washington gave the lesser talented Danny Espinosa a gazillion chances. They’ve given Kieboom chances and theyll continue to give him chances. His upside is vast
On the other hand, if Kieboom wants to stay in The Bigs than he can keep working his butt off and get bdetter to prove the naysayers wrong.
More like Carter Kiebust (just playing he’s still only 23 but whatever)
This looks like a really bad team. Would not be surprised if they finish 5th in division.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis For MVP
I don’t see them as an awful team on paper, but there’s very little room for error in the NL East.
Yrs, I’ve got them for 5th as well. Figure the Mets for 4th. but it’s possible they slide below the Nats if they see the handwriting on the wall and begin a fire sale during the season.
Keep dreaming on the Mets. They will be neck and neck with the Braves.
They could have two former Pirates (Mercer and Harrison) playing on the left side of the infield. What does that tell you?
Josh Bell at 1B too, but so what? The Yankees will have a former Pirate on the mound for opening day.
By looking at their lineup it tells you they dont need to rely on Mercer and Harrison.
Castro at 3B and Harrison at 2B is an improvement. Kieboom was totally overmatched. They still have Luis Garcia to replace Harrison if things don’t work out.
They’re a team that could either win the division or finish last and I don’t think it would be a huge surprise either way. There’s a lot of question marks in the line-up and rotation. Their offense can hinge on Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell. Both could either be very productive bats for the Nats or both could completley struggle. Maybe some of their prospects like Luis Garcia and Carter Kieboom will step up and help support the offense, but that’s not a given either.Hopefully, 2020 Max Scherzer was more of a fluke rather than the start of the end for him, and how many games will Strasburg pitch in?
I agree. They probably are more likely to finish last than first, though. Having said that, they have two of the best players in baseball to build around and a talented, but aging, rotation. That gives them a chance.
Thought they’d at least keep Kieboom up until the minor league season begins. Granted, he definitely doesn’t look like he’s ready.
Rob Refsnyder and Blake Swihart can both play 3B.
How many years since a team thought they could make a pseudo-starter out of Josh Harrison?
I’ve watched a lot of Nationals games since 2013. Got loads of satisfaction doing so. Now they’ve got Max, Stras, Corbin, Trea, Soto……. and ???? The most top-heavy team in MLB.
If Schwarber and Bell hit like they did in the spring thats a deep lineup. Like mlb1225 said it wouldn’t be surprising to see them win the division or finish 5th.
Starting pitching will take them as far as they can go. If they are healthy and on their game, Nats remain a big threat. If not, well…
Todd Frazier is back on the market. Probably a good fit for a platoon 3B option…
Jake Lamb and Jedd Gyorko also available. But no room on the bench now that they’ve added Mercer and Perez (plus Stevenson, Zimmerman & catcher).
It’s sad if Frazier is an upgrade over what you got.
*If* Rizzo is not happy with Castro or Harrison at 3B, it’s laughable to suggest he would be interested in (drumroll) Frazier, unless as a backup.
I’m surprised they are not moving Castro to 3B and letting Harrison play 2B. Jake Lamb and Todd Frazier are back on the market so i wonder if the Nationals will make another move
Looks like the Nationals love old Tigers retreads. Wish them luck but seems like troubled times ahead!
The Nationals are trying to reassemble the 2018 Pirates infield… why, I have no good idea.
Free Jake Noll!
Mercer isn’t a bad option. Perez and Harrison are just flash in a pan players. Lamb isn’t a bad option for them nor is Frazier. The Braves have the same issue at 3rd regarding whom to play but at least with Riley there’s the HR threat and camargo if he can very get into a groove. This screams money savings on the Nats part due to top heavy contracts and downfall with dispute with O’s over tv rights.
How does a team do “money savings” sending a 23 year-old back to the minors, when their payroll is kissing the luxury tax line?
Perhaps you can find a service time issue here.
How was Washington’s signing of Mercer to a MINOR league deal screaming of savings?
Harrison 3B1? Ouch
Peart of the game
Well, hopefully a lot of the guys who would be stuck as AAA depth go to the NPB, KBO, CPBL and even Mexico. Improve the game around the world.
Zimmerman, Bell, Harrison, Turner, Shwarber have all been playing really well in spring training, once Soto and Robles and Gomes get going they will have a good combo of young and veteran hitters who all look to be hitting well and give this team a chance to compete with the strong rotation. The bullpen is worrisome from sprint training for how poorly Hand and daniel Hudson have struggled. As long as Harris comes back and rainey and finnegan and suero keep it up and hand and hudson improve this team will have a good chance at winning as long as the team builds chemistry and have fun lead by Parra and the dugout dances and become the clinch comeback kids again that never quit on any games than i give them a strong chance to do something big and if kieboom isnt ready by trade deadline than add a 3rd baseman and another reliever at deadline and get ready for a potentially fun postseason again. In 2019 all the same fans were predicting a bad season from what they saw at the beginning of that season but we already look better at spring training now and as long as Strasburg can stay healthy all year and into the postseason and fedde voth and ross can give Max some needed days off this season to keep him fresh throughout the year this team has a great chance. More power in the bats a lot of speed in the baselines, the only weakness is how well the defense will play behind the pitching. Lets go nats!!! I predict they get 94 wins and make the wildcard slot and make another postseason run with a lot of babyshark dances and late inning heroics that made 2019 so memorable.
i honestly am surprised they didnt keep Luis Garcia, he looked a lot better in the ML than carter did and is a better utility infield option to go along with Zimmerman. He can play ss 2b and 3b when called upon and has better plate presence and more confident at the majors than carter has had. Bring back Garcia please he had definitely less at bats to prove what he can do and he can steal basses and give us another threat to go with turner and robles
Garcia’s 20. Let him get more experience in the minors. He didnt exactly have a great ST either.
I’d like to see Zimmerman back at third. He can’t throw, but nothing new there, and he can hit when he’s on. Don’t suppose that will happen though.
Zimm’s shoulder would never allow move back to 3rd
Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer? It really does look like the Pirates are the AAA team for the rest of the league.
Nationals done an awful job at third base. They refused to offer a decent extension to Rendon allowing him to reach FA after an awesome season and then didn’t wanna pay him. Look at how few Hall of Fame third baseman there are. It is very hard to find a top-end third baseman. Can’t let an all-MLB 3B go when you have one.
You can’t force a player to sign with you. Rendon did not want to play here — wanted to play on the Left Coast. And besides, Washington’s lukewarm pursuit in resigning Harper showed that resigning Rendon was a bigger priority. Unless you’re the Yankees and Dodgers, you can’t sign everybody
Lots of bedwetting in this thread over a player who was only going to hit 6th or 7th in this lineup.
Rizzo has upgraded the IF by dumping Thames and Suzuki and adding Bell, Zimmerman, and Avila. And a healthy Castro returns. A net gain over last year. .
Carter’s upside was created by the hope that the Nats promoted He has shown little. They have not come even close to replacing Rendon. Frazier not an option. Rizzo should talk with Yankees about Miquel Andujar
Carter K was given enough of a shot to prove himself, he can’t/couldn’t hit MLB pitching & looked bad at it- period! Any Mgr or coach can now project any “upside” and there wasn’t any to help now. Nats Rizzo
Nats & Rizzo missed the boat big time in not planning for plugging a longer term solution at 3rd post Rendon. It’ll cost them the NL pennant in 2021. Big payroll needs to get at least that. Draft a stud NOW. Carter K is history
The problem with all that of course is that Kieboom was a highly regarded 1st round “stud” prospect. So suggesting that Rizzo didnt have a “long term solution” in place for Rendon is wrong.
But sure. Draft a highly regarded prospect and give up on him after a measly 165 MLB AB’s.. And then draft ANOTHER stud who you’ll probably give up on too after another mere 165 MLB AB’s because of a lack of patience. Which is baseball’s biggest sin when it comes to major prospects.