For the second year in a row, the Nationals have agreed to terms with veteran catcher Chris Snyder on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. The Nationals had been looking to add to their catching depth behind Wilson Ramos, who played only 103 games over the past two seasons because of knee surgeries and two hamstring strains. Adding Snyder, 32 years old and a 10-year major league veteran, helps address that; he could even compete for the backup catcher position.
Ramos played 78 games last season, his first back from knee injury in 2012, and finished strong, hitting 16 home runs, driving in 59 runs and posting a .777 OPS. The Nationals expect Ramos to remain healthy next season and have said they are content with Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon as backups. But neither backup, despite their potential, has much major league experience.
Snyder spent only a month with the Nationals in spring training but was well-liked by pitchers. He was granted a release from his minor league deal to sign with Angels. After a month, the Angels before he was traded to the Orioles. After being released in June, he re-signed with the Orioles. He went 2 for 20 with an RBI and four walks in nine major league games last season. At the Class AAA affiliates of the Angels and Orioles, he posted a combined .273/.330/.477 triple slash line with 13 home runs.
The comfort and familiarity with Snyder certainly played a factor in his return to the Nationals. General Manager Mike Rizzo, when with the Diamondbacks as a director of scouting, drafted Snyder in the second round of the 2002 draft out of the University of Houston. At the very least, the Nationals have bought themselves protection against injuries to catchers in spring training.