WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- When is there too much bullpen help? Never.
And if there is a portion of the Nationals' non-roster invitee list for spring training with an outside chance of making the team, it's among the relievers.
Some of the names are recognizable. Foremost among them, Javy Guerra. He survived being cut multiple times last season on his way to a World Series ring. Guerra is affable in the clubhouse, eats innings and will have an outside chance at a long man spot in the back of the bullpen.
Dakota Bacus, who was surprisingly never summoned last season despite the bullpen's epic woes, will also be at spring training. He turns 29 years old April 2, so does not qualify as a prospect. However, he was the best reliever for Triple-A Fresno last year when he worked as the Grizzlies' closer. Bacus finished with a 3.51 ERA, .236 batting average against in the offense-happy Pacific Coast League, and a 1.38 WHIP. His walk rate likely cost him an invite to the majors.
Fernando Abad is an interesting left-hander on a team which could use more left-handed relief help. He made 21 appearances last season with San Francisco. His 4.15 ERA ran counter to opponents hitting just .196 against him. He allowed two home runs among the 13 innings he pitched, bloating his ERA. The Nationals will give him a long look, though the new three-batter minimum rule is not on his side.
Right-hander David Hernandez defined the volatility of relief life from year to year when going from a 2.53 ERA to a 8.02 ERA in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He also pitched well in 2017 for Anaheim. Someone to keep an eye on.
Longshots exist outside of the relievers. Veteran catcher Wellington Castillo received a spring training invitation as insurance for aging Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. Infield prospect Luis Garcia, still just 19 years old, is back at major-league spring training for the second consecutive season.
Washington's minor-league player of the year, Yadiel Hernandez, also received an invitation to West Palm Beach. Hernandez is a 32-year-old outfielder who hit 33 home runs for Triple-A Fresno last season.
Most of the invitations fall into one of three categories: courtesy, insurance or grooming. That holds this season with this group.
Taylor Gushue (S)
Drew Ward (L)
Emilio Bonafacio (S)
Yadiel Hernandez (L)
JB Shuck (OF/LHP)
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