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Posted at 1:55 PM ET, 03/11/2011

Nationals cuts include Cla Meredith, Garrett Mock, Josh Wilkie

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals made their second and largest round of cuts this spring, slicing their big league camp to 46 players, releasing reliever Cla Meredith and optioning two players on the 40-man roster to Class AAA Syracuse.

The Nationals assigned pitchers J.D. Martin, Luis Atilano and George Washington alum Josh Wilkie, catchers Carlos Maldonado and Jhonathan Solano, infielders Michael Aubrey and Kevin Barker and outfielders Jeff Frazier and Jonathan Van Every to Class AAA Syracuse. The Nationals optioned pitchers Garrett Mock and Adam Carr, both on the 40-man roster, to Syracuse.

Mock and Martin are the lone players who appeared with the Nationals in 2011. Mock made one start last year as part of the opening day rotation before landing on the disabled list with a neck injury. Martin made nine starts last year before undergoing season-ending back surgery, going 1-5 with a 4.13 ERA.

Meredith signed with the Nationals this winter as a minor-league free agent. Meredith underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery early this spring after experiencing sharp elbow pain during his first bullpen session. Meredith had undergone a less drastic operation last fall to remove bone chips from his elbow.

Eight players not on the 40-man roster were spared from at least this round of cuts: Chad Gaudin, Alex Cora, Matt Stairs, Tim Wood, Ryan Mattheus, Derek Norris, Laynce Nix and Brian Bixler.

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 1:55 PM ET
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Okay, ignorant question: What's the difference between ASSIGNING someone to Syracuse and OPTIONING him to Syracuse?

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 11, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

So much for the optimism about Mock. He just can't seem to put it together in the big leagues.

Posted by: Natmeister | March 11, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert, people with minor league contracts can be assigned. People on the 40 man roster need to have options available to be sent to the minors without clearing waivers first.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 11, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Players on minor league contracts (anyone not on the 40 man roster) can be reassigned at any time. Players on the 40 man roster have major league contracts and can be put on "optional assignment" 3 times in their career (in some special cases it can be 4). Two good examples of how this works are Gaudin and Harper. Gaudin signed a minor league deal so he makes the team the nationals will purchase his contract and he will be placed on the 40 man roster. Since Harper is already on the 40 man roster and has a major league contract he will be optioned to the minors which will count for one of his years. Finally, only one option can be burned in a season. So Harper, Mock, etc could be called up and sent down as many times as the team wants ... next spring, harper would be optioned again for the second time.

Posted by: heezy | March 11, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

@gilbertbp: The players who were assigned were not on the 40-man roster. If you are on the 40 - man roster, you cannot be sent directly to the minors unless you have options (more accurately, option years) left, Mock and Carr did, hence the term 'optioned'. If either had been out of options, meaning they had been sent to the minors at least once in a certain number of years after first coming to the majors, they could not have been sent to the minors without being put on waivers and available to any other ML team. A player in that situation is referred to as 'designated for assignment'.

Posted by: sjberke | March 11, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland, heezy, sjberke, thanks one and all. There's a reason I'm not a team GM.

Actually, there are probably about three hundred reasons...

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 11, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Worthy cuts, but the one that sticks out to me is Carr.

Posted by: hansenjo | March 11, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Adam: do you think any of these guys actually have a shot of breaking camp with the Nats?

Chad Gaudin, Alex Cora, Matt Stairs, Tim Wood, Ryan Mattheus, Derek Norris, Laynce Nix and Brian Bixler.

Posted by: markfd | March 11, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Ironic isn't it...., both Mock and Chico have never panned out yet Livo who they traded for those two guys is the OD pitcher! Baseball is a funny way to make a living.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 11, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

IMHO, Cora has a shot to take Alberto Gonzalez's roster spot. I could also see Nix or Stairs making the team for a few weeks while we play with only 4 SP's for a while. By calling up a spot starter (Maya?), we could get deep into April with only 4 SP's.
Gaudin seems like a long shot at a job as long relief.
The rest, as I think you're insinuating, certainly no chance.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 11, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

And... Not-on-Base Morgan??????

Posted by: Dog-1 | March 11, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

@sunderland, Nix has to show them a lot to surrender a 40-man slot for him. Its Bixler that's making Rizzo sorry he signed Hairston to a major league contract. At least with his bat he looks like he could step right in for Desmond or Espinosa ... and he is significantly younger than Hairston.

Cora's main advantage is the left-handed bat. But it's a very weak one. Nix has that as well but can't even keep up with Harper? That is not good. If anything Harper in this ST camp has to be making players work harder and longer ... he is making all the fringe major leaguers look like Bush leaguers.

Posted by: periculum | March 11, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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