Nationals Designate Dee Strange-Gordon For Assignment

The Nationals announced a series of roster moves before tonight’s contest with the Braves. Right hands Jackson Tetraault other Reed Garrett have been selected onto the big league roster, while southpaw Francisco Perez was recalled from Triple-A Rochester. In corresponding moves, the club placed Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day list injured with a stress reaction in his ribs, designated infielder Dee Strange Gordon for assignment, and optional right Jordan Weems. Strange-Gordon’s DFA clears one 40-man roster spot, while the other was created by transferring righty Hunter Harvey from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.

Tetrault, 25, wants to get the start tonight in his big league debut. A seventh-round pick in 2017 out of a Florida junior college, he’s posted capable numbers over his five-plus professional seasons. Tetrault owns a 3.85 career minor league ERA while starting the vast majority of his outings. He’s only punched out 20.8% of batters faced, but he owns a decent 8.6% walk percentage and appeared among the back half of the Nationals top 30 prospects at Baseball America each season from 2018-21. He’s spent the entirety of this season in Rochester, working to a 4.19 ERA with a 20.9% strikeout rate over a dozen starts.

Strasburg had initially been slated to start tonight’s ballgame, but manager Dave Martinez told reporters yesterday he’d go back on the IL after experiencing some discomfort following a recent bullpen session. The club has now provided a more specific diagnosis. Strasburg underwent surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome last June, a procedure that involves the removal of a rib to alleviate nerve pressure.

Martinez told reporters today that the stress reaction is related to the surgery (via Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com). He’ll soon visit orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache to determine the source of the setback, but it seems he’s likely in for another lengthy absence. Martinez didn’t provide a specific timetable but noted the current plan is simply for the right-hander to rest.

In addition to the injury-necessitated rotation shakeup, the Nats move on from Strange-Gordon to add an extra arm to the bullpen. Washington signed Strange-Gordon to a minor league contract over the offseason and he cracked the Opening Day roster. The two-time All-Star made a return to the big leagues after topping out at Triple-A last season, but he only wound up appearing in 23 games in a Nationals uniform. That’s partially due to a two-week stay on the COVID -19 injured list between April and May.

Strange-Gordon hit .305 over his 59 trips to the plate, but he didn’t draw a single walk and collected only two extra-base hits. He’s always been reliant on his contact skills and speed, but he hasn’t made much of an impact at the plate since being dealt from the Marlins to the Mariners over the 2017-18 offseason. Strange-Gordon also rated very poorly in 103 innings as a shortstop this season, an unsurprising development for a player seeing his first semi-regular action there in nearly a decade.

The Nationals will have a week to trade Strange-Gordon or place him on waivers. The likeliest course of action is that he’ll pass through the waiver wire unclaimed and hit free agency in the coming days, either via release or rejection of an outright assignment to the minor leagues. As a player with more than five years of MLB service time, Strange-Gordon has the right to elect free agency if he clears waivers while still collecting what remains of this season’s $800K salary.

In his place, Garrett is up for his first major league look in three years. The 29-year-old reliever appeared in 13 games with the Tigers in 2019, serving up an 8.22 ERA with more walks than strikeouts as a Rule 5 draftee. Detroit eventually returned him to the Rangers, the club that had originally selected him out of VMI in 2014, but he never appeared in an MLB game with Texas.

Garrett spent the 2020-21 campaigns with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, totaling 106 2/3 innings of 3.46 ERA ball. He returned stateside via minor league pact with Washington in February, and he’ll head back to the big leagues after 22 appearances in Rochester. Garrett posted an even 4.00 ERA across 27 innings for the Red Wings, striking out 21.9% of opponents against an 8.8% walk rate.

Harvey, meanwhile, made four appearances after being claimed off waivers from the Giants. Today’s transfer is a procedural move, as he’s already been on the IL since April 21 due to a pronator strain. (The transfer is backdated to the date of its original placement). The former first-round pick has yet to begin a rehab assignment, so he surely would not have been ready to pitch in an MLB game within the next week.

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