A minors deal comes with no guarantee of team formation next April. So Doolittle will have to make his way into a small yard that is usually short on the experienced left-handed. He bought a house in the capital last summer and now calls the city his year-round home. Over the past few months, he’s been rehabilitating with Seth Bly, the Nationals’ chief physical therapist who also sees the athletes at a facility in Fairfax, Virginia.
Doolittle started throwing two weeks ago, on schedule, and says he’s progressing well. What that will mean for his arm in March or April remains a guessing game. But the citizens made a low-cost bet that he was willing to take on the hitters and prove himself. Last March, they signed him to a one-year contract in the major league, considering him the perfect fit for a young and inexperienced club. Before he got injured in his elbow, he was more than that, retiring 16 of the 17 hits he faced.
In parts of five seasons with the Nationals, Doolittle has a 2.92 ERA in 148 runs. He often suffered injuries to this extension, but the internal brace procedure was the first major operation on his elbow. The highlight with Doolittle with Washington is helping to secure the world title in 2019. He finished four of the 12 wins required for that tournament.
Doolittle’s replay shouldn’t stop citizens from clearing the left dump market this winter. If they continue to sign players with the goal of flipping them on a trade deadline – as they tried with Nelson Cruz, Steve Ceschek and Cesar Hernandez in 2022 – reclamation palliatives make sense. At the start of Free Agency, it’s safe to pencil in Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, and Carl Edwards, Jr. at the opening ceremony. Tanner Rainey, who once represented such expectations, underwent Tommy John’s operation in early August, and is supposed to recover during the spring. The rest of the spots should be ready to grab.
On Sunday mornings, Doolittle became a free agent with Cesc, Will Harris, Hernandez Erasmo Ramirez, Joe Ross, and Anibal Sanchez. Cruz joined that list on Sunday afternoon when Washington rejected his mutual option for 2023. By subtracting these eight men from the 40-man list, then adding those who will soon be activated from the 60-day infected list, Cruz puts it at 41. Starting this week, At least one of the 40 players must be sent off.
Monday through Thursday, Mike Rizzo and his inner circle will be in Las Vegas for the annual general managers meetings. This is where the next step in rebuilding Washington will take place.