The Toronto Blue Jays announced Tuesday that the signing of veteran infielder Mark DeRosa to a one-year deal worth $750,000 with a ’14 club option for the same amount. Earlier this winter, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson was interested in bringing back the 15-year veteran next season to serve as a backup infielder and, more importantly, as a guiding influence on the team’s younger players.
DeRosa, 37, spent last season with the Nationals, an unlucky year filled with injuries and the tragedy of the passing of his father. But even though he played in only 48 games and hit.188 in 85 at-bats, DeRosa was the most beloved player on the team.
He was part team comedian, part assistant coach and part father. He brought his humor, experience, a World Series ring and a caring nature to a Nationals team that last year had very little playoff experience. The day after Stephen Strasburg was shutdown early for the season, DeRosa noticed his upset and quiet teammate, sat next to him during the game and served as his sounding board.
DeRosa had toyed with the idea of retirement after last season, resisting it because he felt his body was healthy and in good shape. Now, he found a team on which he can make a difference. DeRosa was on the San Francisco Giants in 2010 when they started winning and won a World Series, and helped the younger Nationals last season, when they finally erased their losing ways. On the Blue Jays, a talented team built off of trades and free agents signings, he can serve the same role.
And, a note to pass along from late last week, former Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel agreed to a minor league deal with the Houston Astros with an invitation to spring training, reuniting him with Manager Bo Porter, who coached the Washington outfielders last season.