WASHINGTON — It may only be November, but the Nationals are already well underway in putting together their 2017 roster.
An MLB deadline Friday, in which all teams must establish their 40-man rosters, brought about the latest revisions. They have essentially now decided which players they will protect from the upcoming Rule 5 draft in December.
In that way, their 40-man roster submission can be a reflection on which prospects they value long-term, and those they don’t, although there could also be strategy in leaving a player off the 40-man if they believe there’s a chance he won’t be claimed by another team.
Who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft: Players who were signed at age 19 or older, who have been playing in the pros for four years; players who were signed at 18, who have been playing in the pros for five years.
Here’s who the Nationals added to the 40-man roster Friday:
Rafael Bautista (OF)
Bautista, 23, signed with the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. He hit .283 with 12 doubles, four triples, four home runs and had 39 RBI in 136 games for Double-A Harrisburg in 2016. He also scored 77 runs, swiped 56 bases and led the Eastern League in hits (153). He’s stolen 224 bases in 267 attempts (84 percent) over the course of his five-year minor league career.
Jose Marmolejos (1B)
Marmolejos, 23, signed with the Nationals after going undrafted out of high school in 2011. He hit .289 with 45 doubles — tied for second-most in all of Minor League Baseball — five triples and 13 home runs for 74 RBI and 87 runs in 136 games between Single-A Potomac and Double-A. He earned his second consecutive Nationals Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2016.
Raudy Read (C)
Read, 23, first signed with the Nationals as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. In a career year, Read hit .250 with 30 doubles, one triple and nine home runs, with 51 RBI and 54 runs scored in 101 games for Potomac in 2016. Rated “Best Defensive Catcher” in the Carolina League by Baseball America, Read threw out 31 of 100 potential base-stealers.
Matt Skole (IF)
Skole, 27, was drafted in the fifth round by the Nationals out of Georgia Tech in 2011. He hit .244 with 22 doubles, a triple and 24 home runs, with 78 RBI and 67 runs scored in 140 games for Triple-A Syracuse in 2016. He also earned a Gold Glove for his exemplary defense at first base, posting a .999 fielding percentage after making only one error in 874 chances this season. He made two errors in 100 chances in 41 games at third base.
Austin Voth (RHP)
Voth, 24, was a fifth-round pick by the Nationals out of Washington in 2013. His 3.15 ERA in 25 starts (7-9) was third-best in the International League. He had 133 strikeouts.
What’s next: With these additions, the Nationals still only have 36 players on their 40-man roster, leaving four spots open to be filled in any number of ways in the offseason. Perhaps they could select a player in the Rule 5 draft, or fill those roster spots in free agency, but they have left themselves options.
One Rule 5 eligible player left off the 40-man roster is Bryan Harper, the 26-year-old older brother of Bryce Harper. According to MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, Bryan Harper, who went on the disabled list in August, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. That would make him an unlikely candidate for getting scooped up by another club.