The worst-kept secret of the Nationals’ offseason is about to reach its obvious conclusion, as the team is believed to be close to reaching an agreement with free agent infielder Mark DeRosa.

DeRosa, 36, has been a target of the Nationals all winter, with Manager Davey Johnson, who managed DeRosa in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, telegraphing his interest at the winter meetings, saying, ”He’s a really quality guy. I really like him.”

DeRosa is a career .272/.341/.416 hitter who hit 23 homers as recently as 2009, but he played in only 73 games combined in 2010 and 2011 for the San Francisco Giants due to a wrist injury.

If healthy, DeRosa is a versatile player who has played six different positions in his career, but the Nationals apparently view him primarily as a backup at first base, a need they developed when Chris Marrero tore his hamstring playing in the Dominican winter league. He would also be a possible backup at second base, third base and both corner outfield positions.

“If he’s healthy,” Johnson said earlier this month, “he fits the role about as good as you can get.”

DeRosa has played in six postseasons during a big league career that began in 1998, but was injuried and inactive during the Giants’ 2010 World Series title run.


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