Bill Ladson of MLB.com and Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com have both written about the Nationals’ catching situation recently while coming to more or less the same conclusion: Jesus Flores will be shopped heavily if he looks healthy during spring training.
Flores was once the Nationals’ long-term answer behind the plate and was hitting .301 with an .877 OPS through 29 games as a 24-year-old in 2009, but he hasn’t played since because of significant shoulder problems and in the meantime the Nationals signed Ivan Rodriguez to replace him as the starter and traded for Wilson Ramos to be their new catcher of the future.
First, here’s Goessling’s take on where Flores stands in Washington:
They’ll definitely be trying to show Flores is healthy in spring training, in the event they could flip him for a prospect, or use him as their second catcher if Ramos draws interest. It’s more likely they’d move Flores than Ramos, but you never know.
And now here’s Ladson’s take:
He will battle for one of the spots behind the plate, but it would not come as a surprise if the Nationals use Flores as a trade chip during spring training.
Down the stretch last season the Nationals had Rodriguez and Ramos split time behind the plate and that seems likely to be the arrangement this season as well, so if they can get a good return for Flores expect general manager Mike Rizzo to pull the trigger. And even with his uncertain health status, as a 26-year-old catcher with a decent bat Flores should have some suitors.
Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.
Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.
In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.
Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.
Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.
Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.