Aug 26, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT
PHILADELPHIA — Matt Williams is loathe to look ahead, certainly as far ahead as October when the calendar still reads August. We here at the Insider, on the other hand, don’t worry about such things. Especially with a very important date fast approaching.
We’re five days away from baseball’s August 31 deadline to set postseason rosters, so it seems an appropriate time to remind everyone how that process works. And to remind everyone that the August 31 “deadline” really is something of a misnomer.
In reality, postseason rosters don’t have to be set by August 31. The only thing that must be set is the pool of players who are eligible to participate in the postseason. And even then, there are simple exceptions that allow more players to be added later on.
The only real significance of August 31 is that it marks the final day in which a player can be acquired from another organization and still be eligible for the postseason roster. So, you can’t trade for or sign a player in September and then have him on your roster in October.
But short of that, pretty much everybody else in your organization as of August 31 is eligible for the postseason. The initial pool of players includes everyone on the 25-man roster at the end of the regular season, plus anybody on the major-league DL, bereavement list or suspended list.
So that means this is the Nationals’ initial pool of playoff-eligible players…
PITCHERS (12): Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard, Ross Detwiler, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, Rafael Soriano, Craig Stammen, Drew Storen, Stephen Strasburg, Matt Thornton, Jordan Zimmermann
CATCHERS (2): Jose Lobaton, Wilson Ramos
INFIELDERS (6): Asdrubal Cabrera, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Kevin Frandsen, Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon
OUTFIELDERS (5): Scott Hairston, Bryce Harper, Nate Schierholtz, Denard Span, Jayson Werth
MAJOR-LEAGUE DL (7): Erik Davis (60-day), Taylor Jordan (60-day), Nate McLouth (60-day), Ross Ohlendorf (60-day), Matt Purke (60-day), Steven Souza Jr., Ryan Zimmerman
So that’s 32 eligible players right there. But they aren’t the only eligible players. Anyone who is injured at the start of a postseason series can be replaced by anybody else in the Nationals’ organization (provided they were acquired by August 31).
Which means the Nats will have at least five more openings if they want to replace any of those five players currently on the 60-day DL, none of whom will be ready to return this season. Those five players could come from anywhere within the organization. They could be September call-ups (such as, potentially, Michael Taylor, Aaron Barrett, Blake Treinen, Xavier Cedeno and Jeff Kobernus). But they don’t have to be September call-ups.
They could even be players who aren’t on the 40-man roster and haven’t come close to sniffing the big leagues. (It’ll never happen, but the Nationals would be allowed to put top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito on their postseason roster, provided they were willing to put him on the 40-man roster and start up his service time clock.)
This is for farther down the road, but also keep in mind that a team resubmits its postseason roster before each round, making whatever changes it likes. So if somebody isn’t on the Division Series roster, he’s still eligible to be on the League Championship Series or World Series roster.
If you’re confused by all this, don’t worry. It can sound quite confusing. Really, there’s only one thing you need to remember: As long as a player is in the Nationals’ organization by August 31, he’s almost certainly eligible to be on the postseason roster if the club wants him.
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