The Nationals announced they have outrighted outfielders Yasel Antuna and Josh Palacios. Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post reported Antuna’s outright prior to the official announcement. There had been no public indication that the players had been designated for assignment, but the club evidently passed them through waivers in recent days. Their 40-man roster count is now 38.
Antuna, 23, was selected to the club’s 40-man roster two years ago, in order to protect him from being selected in the 2020 Rule 5 draft. Unfortunately, his development has slowed in recent years. Last year, he played 106 games at High-A and hit just .227/.307/.385, wRC+ of 88. This year, splitting his time between High-A and Double-A, he walked in an incredible 17% of his plate appearances but still produced a tepid batting line of .215/.352/.338, 97 wRC+. He did steal 27 bases on the year but also got caught eight times. Previously a shortstop, he transitioned to a corner outfield role this year, which increases the pressure on him to provide value with the bat. He’ll stick in the organization as depth but without taking up a spot on the 40-man roster.
Palacios, 27, was a Blue Jays draftee who made his MLB debut with them last year but came to the Nats on a waiver claim at the start of 2022. Between the two clubs, he’s gotten into 42 big league games with a meager .207/.267/.232 batting line so far. In 82 Triple-A games in 2022, he fared much better with a batting line of .294/.379/.439, 121 wRC+.
As noted by Dougherty, the Nationals have the first pick in next week’s Rule 5 draft, due to having the worst record in baseball in 2022. They had recently filled up their 40-man roster by signing Jeimer Candelario and Stone Garrett. It seems that they feel they can find better players than Antuna and Palacios in the draft, since they took the risk of placing them on waivers in order to free up some roster spots.