Left-hander Luis Avilan has made the Nationals’ roster, manager Davey Martinez told reporters (including The Athletic’s Maria Torres and Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com). To create 40-man space for Avilan, the Nats have designated righty Dakota Bacus for assignment. Right-hander Rogelio Armenteros and left-hander Seth Romero were also optioned to Triple-A as Washington continues to pare down its roster.
A veteran of nine big league seasons, Avilan is now in position to officially suit up for his seventh different team. The southpaw was a reliable bullpen arm for the Braves and Dodgers from 2012-17, though he has run into increasing problems as his soft contact percentages, and home run rates have wrong directions over the last three seasons. After posting a 6.3% homer rate in his first seven seasons, Avilan’s number jumped to 18.5% over 32 innings with the Mets in 2019 and then 22.2% in his brief 8 1/3 inning-stint with the Yankees last season.
Avilan was hampered by some shoulder problems in 2020, so it’s certainly possible that he’ll regain his old effectiveness with better health in the Washington bullpen. Avilan and closer Brad Hand are the only lefty relievers projected to make the Nationals’ Opening Day roster, as fellow 40-man roster members Romero and Sam Clay look to begin the season at Triple-A. (T.J. McFarland was also in camp on a minor league deal but was released yesterday.)
Bacus made his big league debut in 2020, posting a 7.94 ERA over 11 1/3 relief innings for the Nationals before his rookie season was cut short by a flexor strain. Originally acquired from the A’s in the Kurt Suzuki trade of August 2013, Bacus is a groundball specialist who posted a 3.53 ERA and 19.56% strikeout rate over 609 2/3 career minor league innings, converting into a full-time relief role during the 2016 season.