JUPITER, Fla. — The Washington Nationals granted right-hander Chris Young his unconditional release Tuesday morning, thus ending his brief tenure with the team. Young, who filed paperwork Monday night to opt-out of his minor league deal in the hopes of finding a spot on a major league roster, is now a free agent.
The Nationals were hopeful that they might be able to retain Young and use him as their primary insurance should an injury crop up in their starting rotation. But Young, feeling healthy and like a capable major leaguer, wanted a chance to find an opportunity on a 25-man roster.
He had nothing but positives to say about the Nationals and his time with them. Monday night, after his final start with the team, Young expressed slight optimism that he might still be able to work something out with the Nationals, though with their roster seemingly full it was unclear what that deal might’ve been.
“I’m realistic that the roster is full,” Young said Monday. “I understand that. We’ve talked about maybe trying to work something out to where I can stay. We’re not there right now.
“There’s interest from other clubs and I just have to weigh all the options and see what’s best for me and my family and my career.”
Without Young, the Nationals’ primary starting pitching insurance right now would be Ross Ohlendorf, Ryan Perry and Yunesky Maya. Danny Rosenbaum, who was taken in the Rule 5 draft and recently returned by the Rockies, could pitch his way into that mix as well, as could Nathan Karns, but he will begin the season at Double-A.
Asked who his first choice for a sixth starter right now would be Tuesday morning, Davey Johnson looked up as Zach Duke walked by and shrugged. “He just walked by, probably,” he said.
“I haven’t talked to (general manager Mike Rizzo), but I know he got his release,” Johnson said, unsure if there was a possibility Young could re-sign with Washington on another minor league deal.
“Obviously if he can get a big-league starting job, he’s gone. So I think that’s all up to him, I guess. But he’d be awfully good insurance.”
Duke, who will be the Nationals’ long man in the bullpen this season, has been a starter for almost the entirety of his career. But Johnson has found that Duke bounces back quickly between appearances and wouldn’t have any hesitation using him in a spot start if necessary.
The Nationals now have 30 players in major league camp with less than a week to go before Opening Day.
– Johnson said Henry Rodriguez felt good on Tuesday, rebounding from some weekend elbow soreness and an inning of work Monday night just fine. Rodriguez will pitch on Wednesday.
– Rafael Soriano will make his final two appearances of the spring on Wednesday and Thursday, going back-to-back for the first time this season. Eight appearances all spring was probably the fewest Johnson had ever had a reliever require, he said, but if that’s what Soriano needs, he has no issue with the light workload.
– Drew Storen, who pitched on Monday night, was planning to go the minor league side of camp on Tuesday to get some more work in, Johnson said.
– Sports Illustrated’s baseball preview issue is out, with Stephen Strasburg gracing one of the regional covers, and the experts picking the Nationals to win the World Series.
Johnson had little reaction to that.
“I don’t care,” he said. “That’s nice. Better than being picked to come in last.”