By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 3, 2007
SAN DIEGO, May 2 -- The Washington Nationals traded outfielder Chris Snelling to Oakland for outfielder Ryan Langerhans on Wednesday night, a move that gives the club a superb defensive outfielder less than a week before center fielder Nook Logan is slated to come back from a foot injury.
The trade was announced in the second inning of the Nationals' game with the San Diego Padres, and Snelling was unavailable for the rest of the night.
Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden said the reasoning behind the move was simple -- offense for defense. Snelling has more potential as a hitter. Langerhans could be a key defensive replacement, likely in left field.
"I know late in the game if we're in the ninth inning and [Austin] Kearns is in right and Logan's in center and Langerhans is in left," Bowden said, "there's not a better outfield in this league defensively."
Langerhans, 27, is a .242 career hitter in 297 major league games, including full seasons with the Atlanta Braves in 2005 and '06. After a horrendous start with Atlanta this year, he was traded over this past weekend to the Athletics, where he played in two games. He is just 3 for 48 (.063) this season. Like Snelling, Langerhans is a left-handed hitter, meaning the Nationals will remain without an accomplished right-handed bat on their bench.
Snelling, 25, was acquired along with minor league reliever Emiliano Fruto in the December trade that sent second baseman Jose Vidro to Seattle. He hit .204 with one homer and seven RBI in 49 at-bats. When Logan returns, Ryan Church will move back to left, and Kory Casto and Langerhans will be the backup outfielders.
Bowden said the trade does not increase the likelihood that Church will be dealt.
"Ryan's playing extremely well, and he's an important part of what we're doing with these young guys," Bowden said.