The Nationals made another round of cuts this morning, reducing their big-league roster by six.
Left-hander Matt Purke and outfielder Michael Taylor each were optioned to Class AA Harrisburg. Pitchers Josh Roenicke, Danny Rosenbaum, Clay Hensley and Daniel Stange — none of them members of the 40-man roster — were reassigned to minor-league camp.
Purke continues to be something of an enigma. Drafted in 2011 and given a 4-year, $4 million guaranteed contract to keep him from going back to pitch at TCU, the the left-hander has made only 21 professional starts so far and had shoulder surgery in 2012. He appeared in three games this spring, allowing seven runs on 10 hits and three walks in only 5 1/3 innings.
Taylor, touted as one of the organization’s best outfield prospects, got his first taste of big-league camp this spring and hit went 3-for-18 with a triple and three RBI. The speedy 22-year-old hit .263 with 41 doubles, six triples, 10 homers and 86 RBI last season at high-Class A Potomac and will now get a chance to play center field at Harrisburg.
Roenicke was signed to a minor-league contract last month after spending six seasons with the Reds, Rockies, Blue Jays and Twins and compiling a 4.17 ERA in 190 total big-league appearances. The 31-year-old reliever, who is Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond’s brother-in-law, gave up four runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings this spring. He is expected to open the year at Class AAA Syracuse.
Hensley, 34, was trying to re-establish himself after spending time pitching in independent ball last year. A seven-year veteran with a 4.00 ERA in 271 career big-league appearances, the right-hander tossed four scoreless innings this spring. The Nationals would like him to report to Syracuse, but he has an out clause in his contract and could elect to become a free agent.
Rosenbaum, 26, allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings in his first big-league camp. The left-hander figures to return to Syracuse, where he posted a 3.87 ERA in 28 starts last season.
Stange, signed to a minor-league deal over the winter after making seven big-league appearances with the Diamondbacks and Angels, appeared in two Grapefruit League games and allowed three unearned runs.
With these moves, the Nationals now have 49 players in major-league camp.