Most Nationals fans didn’t know that the 2021 season would be one of profound change within the clubhouse. Now, as the season draws into its final quarter, it turns out players aren’t the only ones who have seen their roles shift.
Per MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, bullpen catcher Brett Austin has departed the club to take a job at North Carolina State, his alma mater, as part of its coaching staff. Brandon Snyder, a familiar face for local fans, was recalled from Triple-A Rochester not to play, but to be on Washington's taxi squad and serve as the bullpen catcher. He joined the team on its current road trip in Milwaukee.
Snyder, 34, was a star prep player at Westfield High in Chantilly, Va. and the No. 13 overall pick in the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft by the Orioles. He only has 200 MLB at-bats in a career that's taken him from Baltimore to Texas to Boston to Atlanta to Tampa Bay before he landed with the Nats on a minor-league deal last November.
Snyder has 12 homers and 32 RBI with the Red Wings this season but is batting .207 in 65 games.
Snyder might be a little lonely out there waiting to warm up relievers. Bullpen coach Henry Blanco has shifted to bench coach while Tim Bogar, the Nats’ first base coach, recovers from back surgery, manager Davey Martinez told reporters in Milwaukee.
Since a wild July 30 trade deadline that saw the departures of established veterans like Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Daniel Hudson, Brad Hand, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester and Yan Gomes, change has been a constant. The Austin, Snyder, and Blanco shifts come on the heels of more roster moves made by Washington before Sunday's series finale against the Brewers.
Reliever Kyle McGowin has been reinstated from the IL, where he has been since the MLB All-Star break with right bicep tendinitis. Austin Voth joins McGowin. The fellow righty also comes back from a stint on the injured list.
Even more roster news: Andrew Stevenson has been optioned back to Triple-A. Stevenson has held his ground in the majors this season and performed admirably in the outfield, but the recent move comes due to the spectacular run of Lane Thomas.
Thomas has only played five games for the Nats this season, but the center fielder has been putting up unreal numbers batting .545 with four runs, a double and a triple. He even threw out a runner at second base on Saturday who was trying to tag up on a deep fly ball. Thomas, 25, was traded straight up for Lester in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nats are 53-69, second to last in the NL East. Despite all the commotion in the clubhouse and on the field with the recent moves, it appears the squad is already looking forward to next season and beyond with the haul of prospects and young players it got with those deadline deals.
After Washington completes its three-game series against Milwaukee, it will take on division foes for the rest of August. The Nats have a pair of three-game series against the Miami Marlins and New York Mets to complete a nine-game, 11-day road trip before seeing the Philadelphia Phillies at home to end the month.