Carter Kieboom, Luis Garcia lead Nationals’ spring training non-roster invitees
Bryce Harper’s free agency hasn’t stopped the Washington Nationals from conducting business. They’ve been the most active team in the offseason, shelling out $189 million to fill other spots on their roster.
And on Tuesday another day Harper remained unsigned the Nationals took the final step toward the start of spring training.
Infield prospects Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia top this year’s list of 18 nonroster invitees for the Nationals. A nonroster invitee gets the chance to compete for a roster spot without counting against the club’s 40-man limit.
The announcement came a day before Washington’s pitchers and catchers report to spring training Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Florida. The rest of the roster reports on Feb. 18.
Kieboom ranks 25th among MLB prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old has primarily played shortstop in the minors, but the Nationals are grooming him to play second base with shortstop Trea Turner on the major roster. Kieboom was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg last season and hit .262/.326/.395 in 62 games.
Garcia, 18, is still in the early stages of his baseball career. He spent time between low-A Hagerstown and high-A Potomac last season. But he carries a lot of upsides as MLB Pipeline ranks Garcia as the sport’s 75th best prospect. Garcia played a variety of infield positions in the minors, hitting .298/.336/.406 between the two leagues.
The Nationals also invited a group of veterans looking for another chance at the majors.
Pitcher Aaron Barrett, 31, hasn’t pitched the last two years because of arm injuries, but will try and find a place in Washington’s bullpen. Drafted by Washington in 2010, Barrett made appearances for the Nationals in 2014 and 2015. He has a career 3.47 ERA.
Henderson Alvarez, Scott Copeland, J.J. Hoover and Vidal Nuno are other veteran pitchers who received an invitation to spring training. Of that group, Alvarez could be the most intriguing. He made the All-Star game in 2014 with the Miami Marlins only for his career to be derailed by injuries.
Washington plays its first spraining training game Feb. 23 against the Houston Astros.
As for Harper, who knows when the 26-year-old will make his decision? Rumors continued to swirl Tuesday about the five-time All-Star.
In light of the news that the San Francisco Giants reportedly offered him a “lucrative short-term deal,” MLB Network reported Harper won’t consider any short-term deal. Harper is known to have previously rejected a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nationals in September, as well.
Adding to the drama, Harper’s social media actions set off some alarm bells among some Nationals fans.
Capitals forward Tom Wilson revealed Harper gasp unfollowed him and some of his Capitals teammates on Twitter.
“I know a couple of us got the unfollow the other day so I don’t know if that’s writing on the wall or what,” Wilson told reporters, via NBC4. “He’s been a leader in this city for a long time. I know he kind of jumped the Caps ship with the Vegas bandwagon there with where he’s from, but it’s always been fun, and I’m sure he’s going to make the best decision for him and his family and his future.”
Harper, however, does still follow the Washington Nationals on Twitter. So maybe it’s not time to panic just yet.