The Washington Nationals have 10 days to set their 25-man roster for Opening Day on March 28, plus they got closer to that when they left their third round of spring training cuts Monday. They also reassigned outfielder Hunter Jones and right-handed reliever J.J. Hoover to minor league camp. Voth, McGowin, Rainey and Cordero were sent to Fresno because they’re on Washington’s 40-man roster.
Jones and Hoover, nonroster invitees to spring training, will obtain their missions in the near future. Manager Dave Martinez made the cuts, which trimmed the roster to 40 players, after a pair of split-squad games Monday. The Nationals dropped, 7-1, to the Miami Marlins in West Palm Beach; they won, 6-5, over the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie. One of the players cut, Cordero has the most experience with the Nationals.
The 27-year-old reliever surfaced in August and ended with a 5.68 ERA in 19 innings across 22 looks. He could not take another step this spring, giving up 12 hits and five runs in five innings.
Rainey arrived at the Nationals from the December trade that sent starter Tanner Roark to the Cincinnati Reds. The 26-year-old needed a 24.43 ERA in seven innings for the Reds at 2018 as he fought with his control, compiling a high strikeout rate and higher walk rate. His fastball is in the mid- to high-90s mph, and he’s got a good slider — promising stuff to get a late-game reliever.
Voth and McGowin are depth starters, probably the Nationals’ eighth and ninth options behind Erick Fedde and Joe Ross, who will back up a solid rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez and Jeremy Hellickson. Nine Nationals pitchers made more or three starts last year — such as Ross and Fedde — that is why Martinez wants to extend out Voth and McGowin going into the season. Each made his introduction and first significant league start in 2018.
Hoover is a 31-year-old reliever who has played seven seasons in the major leagues, spending his first five years with the Reds, one using the Arizona Diamondbacks and parts of last year together with the Milwaukee Brewers.
He signed a minor league contract with the Nationals last month and impressed Martinez at the past five weeks. “Hoover’s been good; he got better as spring training went along,” Martinez said Monday. “It is fine he’s going to be around for a few depth, and you know how this goes. We are going to need over seven, eight litres this year in the bullpen. I enjoyed what I saw — I really did.”