The Nationals signed infielder Will Rhymes, formerly of the Detroit Tigers and recently of the Tampa Bay Rays, to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to the Twitter account of his agents, the Beverly Hills Sports Council. He adds infield depth to the Nationals organization, which was thin on middle-infield prospects in the higher levels of its minor league system.
Rhymes, 29, a Texas native who played in college at William & Mary, hit .228/.299/.285 in 137 plate appearances over 47 games for the Rays this season, and .256/.326/.390 in 46 games for the Rays’ Class AAA affiliate in Durham. The Rays designed him for assignment in September and he elected for free agency. Rhymes was drafted in the 27th round in 2005 by the Tigers, spent five years in their minor league system before debuting in 2010. He played 83 games over two seasons for them; his best in 2010 when he hit .304/.350/.414 in 54 games for Detroit.
If he makes the major league squad, he could fill the role that Mark DeRosa occupied last season, as a backup infielder that can play across the diamond, except without major league experience playing the outfield. Rhymes is primarily a second baseman and has played some third base. When Ian Desmond was sidelined with an oblique injury last season, the Nationals acquired Cesar Izturis as needed insurance because an injury to Danny Espinosa or Steve Lombardozzi would be costly.
A message left at the sports agency late Wednesday night wasn’t immediately returned. The signing was first reported by MLB.com.
UPDATE, 10:15 p.m.: According the sports agency, Rhymes indeed signed and for a one-year minor league deal.