In the kind of no-risk, potential payoff move the Nationals have made repeatedly over the past few seasons, Washington has signed outfielder Tony Campana to a minor league deal through next season, according to people familiar with the situation.
Campana, 29, is a left-handed-hitting, speed-first outfielder who last played in the majors in 2014, when he split 44 games between the Angels and Diamondbacks. He signed a minor league deal with the White Sox this offseason, but tore his ACL in February. The White Sox released him a month later.
He worked out independently since, and recovered quickly enough to begin baseball activities in mid-July. Campana reported to the Nationals complex in Viera last weekend.
With rosters expanding in September, the Nationals will have time to evaluate Campana as a potential bench option — most reasonably for next season, but perhaps for October if he is fully healthy by then. The Nationals lack the kind of speed off the bench many playoff teams carry to provide a late stolen base or ground-covering defensive replacement. If healthy and hitting, Campana could provide that.
As constructed, the Nationals’ bench includes one speedy option in Danny Espinosa, who is also the only healthy middle infielder off the bench, and therefore not an ideal candidate for a late-game pinch runner.
Campana is an Ohio native who played college ball at UNC-Asheville and the University of Cincinnati. The Cubs drafted him in the 13th round of the 2008 draft.
The Nationals have signed several low-risk players to minor league deals, most recently Clint Robinson and Dan Uggla, who have been a part of their bench all season. Tony Gwynn Jr., who has spent this season at Class AAA Syracuse, was a candidate to fill a similar left-handed outfielder bench role when he signed a minor league deal in spring training. The Nationals traded for left-handed hitting and defensively minded Matt den Dekker just before this season, and he has played 26 games this season.