Michael A. Taylor moving into free agency Thursday dropped the Nationals’ 40-man roster to 33. It’s about to take another large dip.
The Nationals are in the middle of a personnel purge because their messy 2020 has prompted them to pivot hard with the 40-man roster. Several veterans and familiar names are going to be out. The 40-man roster will probably drop all the way to 25 before it increases to 28. Stephen Strasburg, Starlin Castro and Seth Romero will be added back after being removed from the 60-day injured list.
Here is the list of those likely to become free agents at 9 a.m. the morning after the World Series ends:
Adam Eaton. After struggling in 2020, the right fielder’s $10.5 million option is unlikely to be picked up. If the team declines it, Eaton will become a free agent for the first time in his career. He leaves Washington with a World Series ring and a trio of injury-marred seasons.
Aníbal Sánchez. Like Eaton, his $12 million team option is likely to be declined. Sánchez was paid $8 million in 2019 to be the fourth starter and finished with 3.7 bWAR. That’s a steal. Last season, he looked like a veteran pitcher who had run out of gas. At 36 years old, his time in Washington is up.
Eric Thames. A dismal year at the plate, in the field and off the field left Thames frustrated. He was part of a memorable Zoom call with reporters after making a crucial error in a double header when he dropped a throw to first. Thames never found a rhythm as the team’s left-handed platoon option at first base. His $4 million mutual option is unlikely to be picked up.
Sean Doolittle. The Nationals’ former closer finished the season on the injured list because of an oblique injury. He is going to Seattle to workout during the winter in an attempt to get back his fastball, which waned much of the season before appearing to be on the way back toward the end of it. Washington does need left-handed bullpen help. Perhaps Doolittle comes back on a prove-it deal.
Asdrúbal Cabrera. The veteran switch-hitter became a crucial find late in 2019. He fit right in, hit well and was a calm presence. The Nationals want to become younger. So, the 34-year-old Cabrera’s second stint with the organization was probably his last.
Kurt Suzuki. At 37, Suzuki’s time in the major leagues may be over. He still shows flashes of offense, but his body has also taken a beating after 14 years behind the plate. The Nationals do need a second catcher to pair with Yan Gomes. It just won’t be Suzuki.
Josh Harrison. He became an important figure this year on and off the field after being signed during the season. Davey Martinez constantly commented on how much he liked Harrison’s energy and presence. Expect him to sign a deal to return.
Brock Holt. A couple of hitting streaks helped Holt finish with a low-power .262 average in Washington. He will hop back into the free agent market following his rough start in Milwaukee and brief stop in Washington.
When all of these players are off the books, the Nationals will have a huge gap in their roster. Mike Rizzo expected to start work on next season the second the regular season ended. It’s needed, because there is a lot to be done.