The Nationals announced a series of roster moves today as they reinstated right-hander Trevor Williams from the bereavement list, reinstated catcher Israel Pineda from the 60-day injured list, and optioned him to Double-A. In a corresponding move, right-hander Paolo Espino was placed on unconditional release waivers.
Williams signed a two-year, $13MM deal with the Nationals ahead of the 2023 on the heels of a solid season as a swingman for the Mets last year, when he posted a 3.21 ERA and 3.88 FIP in 89 1/3 innings of work. In a full-time rotation role this season, Williams hasn’t been able to replicate that success, as he’s struggled to a 4.72 ERA and 5.55 FIP in 22 starts. Among pitchers who have recorded at least 100 innings this season, Williams’ 0.4 fWAR ranks ahead of only Michael Kopech of the White Sox and Martin Perez of the Rangers.
While Williams has struggled as a full-time starter this season, the former second round pick has previous success as a rotation piece dating back to 2018, when he posted a 3.11 ERA in 170 1/3 innings of work with the Pirates. He’ll look to get back on track through the remainder of the 2023 campaign with an eye toward 2024, where he figures to continue as a rotation option for Washington alongside the likes of Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore, and Patrick Corbin.
Pineda, 22, has just four games of big league experience under his belt and has missed the entire season to this point due to a fractured ring finger and an oblique strain. He’s ranked as the club’s 23rd best prospect per MLB Pipeline and 17th per Fangraphs. While Pineda could be ready for a longer-team big league role as soon as next season, the Nationals are fairly well set up at the major league level behind the plate with a tandem of youngsters in the form of Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams.
Espino, 36, had been on the 15-day IL since mid-July with a flexor strain. He pitched just four innings with the big league Nationals this season, during which he allowed 11 runs on 14 hits and three walks while striking out three. Prior to his disastrous stint with the club earlier this season, Espino had spent the last two seasons as a fixture of Washington’s pitching staff, throwing 223 innings across 77 appearances (38 starts) to a 4.56 ERA and 4.70 FIP. Going forward, Espino will likely have to look for a new minor league deal as he looks for a new team to rehab his current injury with.