- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 28, 2020

Update: The Nationals issued a correction Monday regarding Adrian Sanchez. Sanchez was not placed on the 60-day injured list with a torn right Achilles. He is on optional assignment, but still will not be part of Washington’s 60-man player pool.


The Washington Nationals finalized their 60-player pool for the coronavirus-abridged 2020 season Sunday, which included 2019 first-round draft pick Jackson Rutledge among 22 non-roster invites.

The Nationals announced over the weekend that they will open their summer training camp on Friday. Players in the pool still can choose to opt out of the season.

When the Nationals begin the Major League Baseball season — potentially by hosting the New York Yankees for opening day July 23, as the Associated Press and other outlets reported this weekend — they’ll have to whittle the pool down to a 30-man roster. After two weeks, that roster will shrink to a 28-man roster; it will be cut to 26 men for the rest of the year another two weeks later.

The 30 players who don’t make the initial 30-man roster will head to an alternate training site, most likely a ballpark of one of the team’s nearby minor-league affiliates. In the Nationals’ case, the new ballpark in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Maryland, would appear to be feasible options. The team has yet to officially announce where its alternate training site will be.

All 30 MLB teams submitted their player pools Sunday afternoon, but transactions will still be allowed as usual during the season. The trade deadline will be Aug. 31.

Washington’s pool includes 36 pitchers, 11 infielders, six catchers and seven outfielders.

In the infield, the Nationals included Jake Noll — a 2019 spring training surprise who made the opening day roster but played just eight games — along with their top two prospects, Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia.

Infielder Adrian Sanchez was the only player from Washington’s previous 40-man roster who wasn’t included in the player pool. Sanchez was placed on the 60-day injured list after tearing his right Achilles while working out. This means Sanchez will not be eligible to play in 2020.

Among the 36 pitchers selected, Rutledge is the Nationals’ youngest, just shy of 21 years and 3 months. Last year’s first-round pick only had a brief stint with the Class A Hagerstown Suns in 2019, and what would have been his first full season in the minors was interrupted by the coronavirus. He’ll still get a look from the Nationals; the experience includes getting to work out alongside pitchers like Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Sean Doolittle at summer training.

A few of the organization’s other top pitching prospects — Wil Crowe, Tim Cate and 2016 first-round pick Seth Romero — were also included in the pool.

The seven outfielders are presumed starters Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton, joined by Andrew Stevenson, Michael A. Taylor, Yadiel Hernandez and 35-year-old non-roster invite Emilio Bonifacio, who last played in the majors in 2017.

The six catchers are Kurt Suzuki, Yan Gomes, Raudy Read, Tres Barrera, Welington Castillo and Jakson Reetz.

Every time a team goes on the road for games, it will be allowed a “taxi squad” of three players who could fill in for a player who suffers an injury or tests positive for COVID-19. The taxi squad will travel with the team so, in case of emergency, the team does not have to put players on a commercial flight to join the team and risk exposure to the virus.

The players will come from this 60-player pool, and the squad always must feature one catcher.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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