As we approach the end of the season, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the roster and see who’s worth holding onto into next season and who might be worth moving on from. It’s been a rough season, but as you look down the current 40-man roster, there are some guys who are worth hanging onto. For this exercise, we aren’t going to name the obvious “holds” like Kiebert Ruiz, Luis Garcia, CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray and yes, Joey Meneses, just to name a few.
Cory Abbott: Abbott was a 2nd round pick for the Cubs back in 2017 and was claimed off waivers from the Giants earlier this year. Through 35 innings, Abbott has a 4.37 ERA and 1.314 WHIP. He’s not going to suddenly become a stud in the rotation or the bullpen, but he could be a multi-inning reliever/spot starter going forward. As far as waiver claims go, that’s not awful.
Victor Arano: Maybe this one seems obvious considering he still has 4 more seasons of team control, but he has a -0.7 bWAR and a 0.3 fWAR. I personally think he’s been more valuable than that, but he has a fragile arm that has been overused this season. He’s appeared in 43 games so far this season after not having appeared in the Majors since 2019 (he did make 32 minor league appearances for Atlanta last year though). There’s no reason not to pencil him in for a bullpen spot next season.
Gerardo Carrillo: Carrillo was acquired in the deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to LA last year. He’s currently on the 40-man roster and has spent the majority of his time in the Nationals organization on the injured list. The Nats converted him to a reliever this past offseason and so far he hasn’t responded well to it posting a 7.25 ERA in 20 appearances in Wilmington and Harrisburg. I’d still give this another year. He still has a live arm and was a solid prospect when the Nats acquired him.
Hunter Harvey: Another one that probably seems like a no-brainer. Like Abbott, he was acquired via waivers from the Giants. He’s been one of the better pieces in the Nats bullpen this season when he’s been healthy posting a 3.26 ERA (and an ERA+ of 124) in 30 appearances. He gave up his first homerun in over 30 innings last night. His stuff is nasty and he’s under team control through the 2026 season.
Jordan Weems: He doesn’t fit in with some of the other guys on this list, but I’d hold him for two reasons. The first being that he still has two more options remaining, so the Nats could just stash him in AAA until a need arises. Second, he had a really good but unnoticed July where he posted a 3.14 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and opponents hit just .160 off of him through 13 appearances. He’s a solid depth piece moving forward until someone else (like say Zach Brzykcy) is ready for Major League action.
Ildemaro Vargas: This one is actually somewhat painful for me to write because I trashed the Nats for bringing Vargas up instead of letting Jake Alu get his chance. Vargas has worked out though and is probably a solid utility guy to have on the roster moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need to see him playing third base everyday, but he’s controllable through 2026 and is able to play all around the infield.
Alex Call: Another move I trashed when it was made because the Nats decided to pass on Franmil Reyes so they could claim Call instead. Call has had a couple of nice games though as a Nat and deserves a chance to carry that into next year. Holding Call might allow the Nats to move on from one or two other OFs currently on the 40-man roster if they want to.
Erick Fedde: I’m sorry, but the Erick Fedde experiment is over. Between Gore, Gray, Cade Cavalli and (unfortunately) Patrick Corbin, the Nats should be able to find someone…anyone other than Fedde to take the last spot in the rotation. They should be looking for starting pitching this offseason and Fedde is going to have to be the odd man out. And no, I don’t need to see him in the bullpen, either.
Reed Garrett: He’s not very good. He has an 8.22 ERA in 19 Major League appearances. He doesn’t even really serve as a depth piece, so there’s really no reason to hang onto him.
Seth Romero: I think Romero has talent, but his schtick has run its course. He’s rarely on the field, whether that is due to injury or off the field issues. He’s posted a 3.38 ERA through 5 starts this year, but walks have been a big issue (as they have in the past). He’s already 26 years old, and although he could likely turn into a dominant left-handed reliever, it’s probably time to clear the 40-man roster spot and see if a change of scenery will help.
Tres Barrera: The Nats now have 4 catchers on their 40-man roster. This was bound to happen because Israel Pineda was Rule 5 eligible this offseason. It’s unsustainable to carry 4 catchers on your 40-man roster though, especially when each of them are healthy. Barrera, who is about to turn 28 years old, is likely the odd man out if the Nats decide to move on from one.
Victor Robles: I’m going to preface this by saying he’s probably going to be very good somewhere else. But it’s time to move on. The Nats aren’t getting the most out of Robles and they have an influx of average to below average outfielders on their 40-man roster. He has a OPS+ of 71 and a .588 OPS this year. He plays solid defense, but his bat is flat out horrendous at this point. On top of that, having Lane Thomas, Call, Robles, and Josh Palacios all on the 40-man roster doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. That doesn’t even include Yadiel Hernandez who will likely be back next year. It’s time to move on from Robles and maybe even Palacios too depending on how the Nats want to handle the roster going forward.
Yasel Antuna: I’ve admittedly always been low on Antuna, but he’s struggling in AA and wasn’t exactly destroying pitching in Wilmington either. He has a .565 OPS through 71 ABs in Harrisburg and he’s not a very good defensive player. If the Nats need to free up a 40-man roster spot at any point during the offseason, Antuna should probably be DFA’d.
There are other guys on the 40-man roster that could go under the “sell” list, but didn’t end up there mainly because they’re serving as minor league depth pieces in positions where there isn’t much depth. For example, Lucius Fox is never going to be a quality Major League player. But, the Nats don’t have much middle infield depth in the upper parts of the minor leagues, so if the need arises, Fox is at least serviceable. The same goes for Francisco Perez. He’ll never be a great reliever, but the Nats don’t have many left-handed relief options in the minors. Perez is that guy and he still has multiple options, so it doesn’t hurt to hang onto him.