The Nationals have far less to do this winter today than yesterday following their acquisition of Doug Fister, which should cap one of the best rotations in the majors. But they still have spots to fill, some of which became more glaring after the Nationals shipped lefty reliever Ian Krol and dependable reserve infielder Steve Lombardozzi to the Tigers.
The Nationals need a backup infielder, and would probably like one they do not need to make a major commitment to since they still have Danny Espinosa, who can play shortstop. They need a left-handed bat for the bench, preferably one who can hit for power. And they still need to add a left-handed reliever.
The Nationals are surely aiming higher, but a fresh batch of players hit the market after teams non-tendered players last night. Here are a few who may not be ideal, but fit what the Nationals are looking for.
Xavier Paul, OF
The Nationals allowed Paul to opt out of his minor league contract in mid-2012, and he jumped from Class AAA Syracuse to the Reds, where he became an excellent pinch hitter. Paul can crush fastballs from right-handed pitchers and can draw a walk. He’s not usable against lefties, but he has a .733 OPS against right-handed pitching in his career.
Garrett Jones, OF/1B
Jones hit 27 homers in 2012, so he would provide more power than any other left-handed hitter whose team allowed him to walk. He has a career .458 slugging percentage. He’s 33 and punched up a .289 OBP last year, but you could do a lot worse when bargain shopping. He may be the most viable name on this list.
Paul Janish, SS
All-glove, no-hit. But it’s a heck of a glove. He hit .171 with a .442 OPS last season, and he has a career .284 on-base percentage. He could be a potential minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
Elliot Johnson, IF
The Braves acquired Johnson in the middle of last season and he proved to be a capable fill-in at second base after Dan Uggla cratered. He’s a switch who can play all over the infield, so he could be a cheap replacement for Lombardozzi.
Omar Quintanilla, SS/2B
Similar to Janish with (slightly) more offensive ability. He hit .222/.306/.283 for the Mets last year, but made several spectacular plays.
Sam Fuld, OF
He’s hit six homers in 808 plate appearances, so he doesn’t have the pop the Nationals want. But he’s a terrific defensive outfielder, and he could steal bases as a pinch runner. He made a big impact on the Rays with his energy, but he’s probably not what the Nationals are looking for.
Ryan Kalish, OF
At only 25, the hard-luck Kalish presents more upside than most others on this list. He was one of the Red Sox’ best prospects before injuries saddled him upon reaching the majors. It was a while ago, but as proof of his potential, Kalish hit 18 homers as a 21-year-old in the minors.
Wesley Wright, LHP
The Rays didn’t have room for him, but Wright is a respectable reliever. He may not fit the Nationals’ needs perfectly, though. Lefties hit .263 against him last season — he actually fared better against right-handed hitters.
Daniel Hudson, RHP
This is more of a wild card. Hudson is currently rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery, which is scary stuff. But Mike Rizzo has long been a fan, and Hudson is just 26. He may be worth the small risk of a cheap, two-year contract. In 2012, he had a 3.49 ERA over 222 innings.