The Nationals announced that catcher Israel Pineda, who was designated for assignment last week, cleared outright waivers and has been assigned to Triple-A Rochester. He will stick with the club but without taking up a roster spot.
Pineda, 24 in April, was added to the Nationals’ roster in September of 2022 when Keibert Ruiz was injured. Pineda was kept mostly on the bench, only playing four games, hitting .077/.143/.077 in his 14 plate appearances. He then endured a challenging 2023 season, beginning the campaign on the injured list due to a right finger fracture. He was slowed by an oblique strain while rehabbing and wasn’t reinstated from the IL until early August, getting optioned to the minors at that time. Between his rehab stints and optionable assignment, he hit just .176/.229/.268 in 41 minor league games on the year.
Defensively, Baseball Prospectus looks fondly upon his work with the throwing game but is less enthused about his framing and blocking. That tracks with a scouting report from Baseball America, with that outlet still considering Pineda to be the #21 prospect in the system, but noting that his framing is a work in progress.
Since he doesn’t have a previous career outright or three years of service time, he doesn’t have the right to reject this assignment. He will stick with the Nats as non-roster depth behind Ruiz, Riley Adams and Drew Millas. Pineda will look to get back to the form he showed at the plate in 2022, when he hit 16 home runs in 99 games across three different minor league levels. He finished that year with a combined slash line of .258/.325/.458 and wRC+ of 111 before getting called up to the majors.