The Nationals announced a series of roster moves this afternoon. Washington selected aides Jordan Weems on the big league roster and designated Righty Austin Voth for assignment in a corresponding transaction. The Nats have also made their choice Andrew Machado after Triple-A Rochester and recalled southpaw Francisco Perez. Washington rightly announced that Aaron Sanchez deleted outright waivers and chose minor league free agency.
Weems are playing in the majors for the third straight year. The right-hander broke into the major leagues with the A’s in 2020, then split between the Oakland and Diamondbacks organizations last year. He had some success during his first campaign, posting a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings. Weems walked an alarming 12.1% of opponents, but he introduced swinging shots with a powerful clip of 13.1%, fanning out more than three out of ten batters he faced.
However, the following year proved to be a much bigger struggle. Opposing lineups marked the former third-round pick for ten runs in 5 2/3 innings, and he saw his swinging strike numbers plummet. Arizona exempted Weems from waivers from Oakland in July, but removed him from their list a month later. He continued to struggle through the stretch in Triple-A and reached minor league free agency at the end of the season.
Washington brought the 29-year-old on board in spring training via a non-roster deal. Assigned to Rochester to open the season, he earned his way back with a superb performance. Weems has a 3.38 ERA over 24 innings of relief for the Red Wings while setting the best underlying numbers of his career. He’s batted 33.7% of opposing hitters while walking batters at a rate of just 5.3% — a significant improvement over his career mark of 11.4% in the minors. Weems has a few minor league option years left, allowing the Nats to rotate him on and off the active roster without subjecting him to waivers if they are willing to keep him on the 40-man roster.
Voth has played in the major leagues for Washington for the past five years. A former fifth-round draftee, he reached the majors midway through the 2018 campaign. He’s worked as a swing option during seasons since then, starting fairly frequently through 2020 but transitioning primarily to a multi-inning relief role over the past two years. Voth performed well in 2019, posting a 3.30 ERA with quality strikeouts and walks through 43 2/3 frames, but he’s struggled in the trio of seasons since then.
The right-hander was a consistent member of the rotation throughout the truncated 2020 season, but allowed more than six earned runs per nine innings while dealing with significant home run problems. The longball continues to be a problem even after Voth’s bullpen transfer. Back in early 2021, he’s allowed 1.7 homers per nine. Along the way he posted a 6.51 ERA through 76 frames. That includes a 10.13 mark this season, with Voth allowing multiple runs in each of his last five games.
These fights increased to the point that Washington decided to move on. The 29-year-old has no options left so a DFA was the only means of removing him from the active squad. It will now be traded or waived in the coming week.
Voth has more than three years of MLB service, so he would have the right to turn down minor league play if he were clarifying waivers. But that would require him to forego the remainder of his $875,000 salary, making it more likely he’ll accept a direct move to Rochester if another club doesn’t fire on him.
Sanchez, meanwhile, has been selected for action over the weekend. The right-hander was hit hard in seven big league starts after signing a minor league deal during spring training. Presumably, he’ll head off in search of another non-roster pact elsewhere. Sanchez has more than five years of service, so he will collect the remainder of his $2 million split salary, though he declines direct assignment. Each signing team would only owe him a prorated portion of the $700,000 minimum for time he spent the remainder of the season in the majors.