The Nationals announced a series of roster moves this afternoon. Washington selected reliever Jordan Weems onto the big league roster, designating righty Austin Voth for assignment in a corresponding transaction. The Nats also optioned Andres Machado to Triple-A Rochester and recalled southpaw Francisco Pérez. Washington also announced that righty Aaron Sanchez has cleared outright waivers and elected minor league free agency.
Weems is headed to the majors for the third consecutive season. The right-hander broke into the big leagues with the A’s in 2020, then split last year between the Oakland and Diamondbacks organizations. He had some success during his debut campaign, posting a 3.21 ERA through 14 innings. Weems walked an alarming 12.1% of opponents, but he induced swinging strikes at a strong 13.1% clip and fanned more than three in every ten batters faced.
The following year proved a significantly greater struggle, however. Opposing lineups tagged the former third-round pick for ten runs in 5 2/3 innings, and he saw his swinging strike numbers dip precipitously. Arizona grabbed Weems off waivers from Oakland in July but outrighted him off their roster themselves a month later. He continued to struggle down the stretch in Triple-A and reached minor league free agency at the end of the season.
Washington brought the 29-year-old aboard via non-roster deal in Spring Training. Assigned to Rochester to open the season, he’s earned his way back with an excellent showing. Weems has a 3.38 ERA across 24 innings of relief for the Red Wings, showcasing the best underlying numbers of his career in the process. He’s punched out 33.7% of opposing hitters while walking batters at just a 5.3% rate — a marked improvement over his 11.4% career mark in the minors. Weems still has a pair of minor league option years remaining, so the Nats can rotate him on and off the active roster without exposing him to waivers if they’re willing to keep him on the 40-man roster.
Voth has pitched in the big leagues for Washington in each of the last five years. A former fifth-round draftee, he reached the majors midway through the 2018 campaign. He’s worked as a swing option in the seasons since then, starting fairly frequently through 2020 but transitioning primarily into a multi-inning relief role over the past two years. Voth had a nice showing in 2019, posting a 3.30 ERA with quality strikeout and walk numbers through 43 2/3 frames, but he’s struggled in the trio of seasons since then.
The right-hander was a consistent member of the rotation during the abbreviated 2020 season, but he allowed more than six earned runs per nine innings while dealing with significant home run issues. The longball has continued to be a problem even after Voth’s bullpen transfer. Going back to the start of 2021, he’s allowed 1.7 homers per nine. Along the way, he’s posted a 6.51 ERA through 76 frames. That includes a 10.13 mark this season, with Voth allowing multiple runs in each of his last five outings.
Those struggles mounted to the point that Washington decided to move on. The 29-year-old is out of options, so a DFA was the only means for taking him off the active roster. He’ll now be traded or waived in the coming week.
Voth has more than three years of MLB service time, so he’d have the right to refuse a minor league assignment if he clears waivers. That’d require forfeiting the remainder of his $875K salary, however, making it likelier he’d accept an outright to Rochester if another club doesn’t take a shot on him.
Sanchez, meanwhile, was designated for assignment over the weekend. The right-hander was hit hard over seven big league starts after signing a minor league deal during Spring Training. He’ll presumably head out in search of another non-roster pact elsewhere. Sanchez has more than five years of service, so he’ll collect the remainder of his prorated $2MM salary in spite of his refusal of the outright assignment. Any signing team would only owe him the prorated portion of the $700K league minimum for time spent in the majors the rest of the season.