The Nationals announced that they have selected the contract of catcher Drew Millas, a move that seemed to be coming since it was reported yesterday that Millas was travelling with the club to Toronto. In corresponding moves, outfielder Blake Rutherford was optioned after yesterday’s game while righty Carl Edwards Jr. was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
Millas, now 25, was originally drafted by the Athletics in 2019 but came to the Nats in the 2021 deadline deal that sent Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison the other way. He has since climbed his way up the minor league ladder, finishing last year at Double-A. Coming into this year, he was considered the club’s #25 prospect by Baseball America, who highlighted his defense but expressed concerns about his aggressiveness at the plate, with Millas having been punched out in 31.4% of his Double-A plate appearances last year.
He started this year back at Double-A and showed a great deal of improvement. In 99 plate appearances, he struck out at just a 16.2% clip and slashed .341/.455/.537, getting promoted to Triple-A in late May. FanGraphs then published its list of top prospects in the system in early June, bumping Millas up to the #6 spot. Since getting up to Triple-A, he’s taken 229 trips to the plate over 58 games. He drew walks at a 11.4% rate and struck out at a 14.4% strikeout clip while hitting .270/.362/.403 and will now get a bump to the majors.
The Nats will now have a three-catcher setup a tad earlier than usual, as such roster alignments are popular around the league when rosters expand in September. Millas will join Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams as the club’s catching trio for the time being, perhaps for the remainder of the season. The club has been playing well of late but are still well below .500 and eight games out of a playoff spot, meaning they are still clearly focused on the future.
Ruiz is hitting around a league average rate this year but his defensive marks aren’t great, including -11 Defensive Runs Saved and negative grades for his framing from both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Nonetheless, he is fairly settled in as the club’s primary backstop, having signed an eight-year extension back in March. Adams is also graded poorly for his glovework but has a strong .278/.338/.489 batting line for the year. Most of that damage has come against lefties, as the right-handed hitter is slashing .349/.414/.603 with the platoon advantage. The Nats will have the final month-plus of the schedule to sprinkle playing time around to these three and determine how to proceed in future seasons.
As for Edwards, his transfer is little more than a formality. He’s already been on the injured list longer than 60 days, having landed there on June 21. He’s eligible to be reinstated whenever he’s healthy, but that isn’t likely to be in the near future as he was recently diagnosed with a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder and shut down.