Nationals Promote James Wood, Designate Eddie Rosario For Assignment

james-wood

The Nationals have officially promoted top prospect James Wood to the major leagues, confirming the selection of his contract from Triple-A Rochester. In a corresponding move, veteran outfielder Eddie Rosario has been designated for assignment.

Wood’s promotion was first reported last Friday, with MLBTR’s Darragh McDonald providing a detailed analysis of the outfielder’s impending rise.

The 21-year-old excelled against upper-minors pitching this season, posting a remarkable .353/.463/.595 slash line with 10 homers, 16 doubles, and nearly equal numbers of walks (40) and strikeouts (42). Wood has shown impressive plate discipline, drawing walks in 17.3% of his plate appearances, and has also been successful in 10 out of 11 stolen base attempts.

Originally a second-round pick by the Padres in 2021, Wood has risen to be widely regarded as the top prospect yet to debut in the majors. Both Baseball America and MLB.com rank him as the No. 3 prospect overall, with the higher-ranked prospects (Paul Skenes, Jackson Holliday, Junior Caminero) having already reached the majors.

Wood’s promotion means he will be under team control through at least the 2030 season, with eligibility for arbitration starting in the 2027-28 offseason.

Wood joins Nationals starter MacKenzie Gore and shortstop CJ Abrams as key players acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego two years ago. The Nationals also have minor league outfielder Robert Hassell III and left-hander Jarlin Susana progressing through their system.

While Hassell and Susana may not have the same high ceiling as Wood, Abrams, and Gore, both are promising prospects. Hassell, 22, reached Double-A this year, and Susana, 20, is in his second season at Low-A. Both could potentially reach the majors in the next few years.

Veteran outfielder Eddie Rosario, 32, was expected to be affected by Wood’s promotion. Rosario, who has played for the Twins, Braves, and Guardians, signed a minor league deal with a $2MM base salary during spring training and made the Opening Day roster despite struggling in nine spring games. Rosario had a poor start to the season (.088/.137/.162 through April), improved in May (.253/.319/.530), but slumped again in June (.191/.200/.250).

Overall, Rosario’s stint with the Nationals resulted in a .183/.226/.329 batting line, which is 46% below league average (54 wRC+). His 5.5% walk rate was his lowest since 2019, and his 23% strikeout rate was similar to his rates in Atlanta from 2022-23, though higher than his 16.1% rate from 2017-21.

Rosario was acquired by the Braves in a 2021 salary-dump deal with Cleveland and had an exceptional run, hitting .271/.330/.573 with seven homers in 106 plate appearances. He shone in the NLCS, batting 14-for-25 with three home runs and earning NLCS MVP honors, though he slumped in the World Series.

Rosario’s performance with the Braves led to a two-year, $18MM contract, which did not meet expectations. He hit .212/.259/.328 in the first year of the contract and while he hit 21 homers in 2023, his overall batting line was league average (100 wRC+) and his defense was subpar. Rosario was a productive outfielder for the Twins from 2017-20, but his performance has declined in the past four seasons, hitting .236/.283/.403 with poor defense and increasing strikeout rates.

The Nationals have five days to trade, release, or place Rosario on outright waivers. Given his service time, Rosario would likely reject an outright assignment to Triple-A. It’s unlikely any team would claim the remaining amount on Rosario’s contract, so a release is the most probable outcome. Rosario would then be free to sign with any team, which would owe him only the prorated league minimum for time on the major league roster. The Nationals would be responsible for the majority of his contract.