Needing to make tweaks to their 40-man roster before Thursday’s midnight deadline to protect players from being lost in next month’s Rule 5 draft, the Nationals purchased the contracts of pitchers Sammy Solis and Aaron Barrett and outfielder Michael Taylor while designating left-handers Fernando Abad and Tyler Robertson for assignment.
Solis, Barrett and Taylor were among more than a dozen Nationals minor leaguers who would be subject to this year’s Rule 5 draft if not added to the club’s 40-man roster. Their additions don’t necessarily suggest the organization believes they are big-league ready now but does speak to their long-term potential.
Solis rates as the Nationals’ sixth-best prospect this winter, according to Baseball America. The 25-year-old left-hander, a second-round pick in the 2010 draft, missed the 2012 season following Tommy John surgery but returned healthy this year and posted a 3.43 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) at Class A Potomac.
Solis recently impressed in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 2.17 ERA and a league-best 29 strikeouts over 29 innings. He’s likely to open 2014 at Class AA Harrisburg but could reach Washington by season’s end, perhaps out of the bullpen.
Barrett, who turns 26 in January, could find himself debuting in the majors sooner than that. The hard-throwing right-hander, a ninth-round pick in the 2010 draft, had a 2.15 ERA, 26 saves and 69 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings this season at Harrisburg.
Taylor’s skills remain raw, but the athletic 22-year-old has the potential to become a big-league center fielder in a few years. A sixth-round draft pick in 2009, he hit .263 with 10 homers, 87 RBI and 51 stolen bases at Class A Potomac. Rated the Nationals’ seventh-best prospect by Baseball America, he currently leads the Puerto Rican Winter League with a 1.042 OPS.
In designating Abad and Robertson for assignment, the Nationals remove both pitchers from their 40-man roster. If they clear waivers unclaimed, they can remain in the organization. They can also be traded or released in the next week.
Abad spent considerable time in the Nationals’ bullpen this season and didn’t allow a run in his first 10 appearances. The lefty, though, allowed 14 runs over his final 29 innings, finishing with a 3.35 ERA. He also struggled to retire left-handed hitters, who collectively hit .306 off him.
Robertson was claimed off waivers from the Twins in June and spent the remainder of the season at Class AAA Syracuse. He finished with a 3.04 ERA in 26 appearances.