As expected, the Nationals signed veteran outfielder Jason Michaels to a minor league contract today, less than a week after they released him. The Nationals allowed Michaels to seek a major league contract with another team, but all along they hoped he would return to the organization.

This spring, as Michaels competed for one of the final bench spots, the Nationals placed his locker next to Bryce Harper’s. They valued the 11-year veteran’s leadership and his ability to serve as mentor. Now, Michaels can continue that role with Harper at Class AAA Syracuse.

“I have a great affection for Jason,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He played outstanding in spring training. He’s an excellent teammate. There was no coincidence he was lockered next to [Bryce] Harper. He just wasn’t a fit for this team at this time of the year. He could help us or somebody in the big leagues very soon.”