The Nationals are a team to watch as the spring draws to a close. The team is trying to trade Ivan Rodriguez to clear the No. 1 catching job for Wilson Ramos and also faces decisions on outfielders Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina, major-league sources say.
The thinking on Rodriguez is that he might be unhappy in a backup role. The Red Sox are among the clubs that the Nationals contacted about a trade, but the Sox are content with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek, sources say. The only catcher the Sox want to add is a veteran who could provide insurance at Triple A.
The Nationals might prefer a third catcher, Jesus Flores, to start the season at Triple A; one rival executive says that Flores, coming off a right-shoulder injury, still isn’t throwing well. So, if the Nats traded Rodriguez, they might need to find another veteran catcher to back up Ramos.
Meanwhile, the competition in center field remains intense. The Nats could end up using a platoon of Rick Ankiel, a left-handed hitter, and Jerry Hairston, a switch-hitter. If that happens, both Morgan and Bernadina will be squeezed; the Nats plan to keep veterans Matt Stairs and Laynce Nix as bench players, sources say.
One area of concern for the Nats is the bullpen; Drew Storen, the projected closer, has an 11.74 ERA in seven appearances this spring, and the team now plans to use a committee to protect late-inning leads.
Righty Henry Rodriguez, obtained from the A’s in the Josh Willingham trade, has struggled but is out of options. Righty Brian Broderick, a Rule 5 pick from the Cardinals, has allowed just one run in 12-2/3 innings.
— Ken Rosenthal