Feb 052012

It’s Super Bowl Sunday as this goes to virtual press, so if you’re reading this before Monday, thank you very much.

In an unsurprising move, the Nationals have signed Rick Ankiel to minor-league contract with an invite to spring training, according to multiple online reports. For the second year in a row, there will be a three-man race for the CF job, with veteran Mike Cameron joining the mix along with Roger Bernadina.

While this does not necessarily eliminate Bryce Harper from the OF mix, it does indicate that the talk of Jayson Werth playing in RF CF could just be that: talk. As mentioned previously and repeatedly, Harper has been playing LF more than RF since being recalled from Hagerstown last summer. It’s pretty clear that Harper will not win a battle with incumbent Michael Morse unless Morse is needed at 1B because LaRoche is not fully healthy and/or ineffective.

But, as is always the case with Mike Rizzo, the only inarguable thing to infer from this is that he will make sure he has as many options as possible. My money is still on Harper being sent down Syracuse to “work on his defense,” even if he outhits the veterans.

Baseball America is reporting via its Free Agent Tracker that the Nationals have signed RHP Gaby Hernandez. The 25-year-old has been mired at AAA since 2008, pitching for Seattle, Florida, Kansas City, Chicago (A), and Arizona. As you might imagine, Hernandez has been well-regarded for his tools, and his age relative to the league, but has had trouble translating them into results.

As always, if there any other notable moves made in the next 24-48 hours, it will be updated in this space.

  14 Responses to “Catching Up On Transactions”

  1. Does Bernadina have any minor league options left, or does he have to be DFA’ed?

  2. It’s pretty clear that Harper will not win a battle with incumbent Michael Morse unless Morse is needed at 1B because LaRoche is not fully healthy and/or ineffective.

    Its also just as clear that the Nats need a left-handed power bat and Morse in the lineup … if you can’t rely on LaRoche and Espinosa … particularly if LaRoche ends up getting traded at some point?

    They just may wait until June for Harper … but starting Ankiel anywhere will only continue the status quo of a pathetic and ineffective offense.

    And so if you are right about the Nats deciding to give Harper time in AA/AAA you almost have to expect them to go out and sign Johnny Damon?

    • I’d take Fukudome over Damon at this point.

    • I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument as to why we would want a season of the 19-y.o. Harper at the expense of a cost-controlled season of the 25-y.o. Harper. But this goes to show that Rizzo may not necessarily be trading for a CF, as has been the assumption for the past couple of days.

      • Your argument is unassailable; there’s no smart reason to let Harper start the year in Washington. But, Davey says he wants him and we all remember what happened last summer when Davey wanted that all important bench bat.
        At least the Rhinehart Mafia & Manno’s minions remember!

  3. With just less than two weeks until catchers & pitchers arrive in Viera, Rizzo is picking up depth & options off the FA lists. That’s not a bad thing – It keeps the big club away from what occured in ’10 & ’11 when Dukes, then Morgan were off-loaded late in the spring, creating holes in the lineup.

    The expected roster for SYR is beginning to round out, and from Harrisburg to Hagerstown we actually have some real prospects to watch and track, not just arms. All I can say is it’s going to be an interesting year in the Nationals’ system.

  4. I think the Ankiel move is a solid low risk move, if he makes the team it gives you a great defensive OF who come off the bench and play all three positions and is much better than anyone else on the roster by a long shot!

    Regarding Harper, barring an injury or a slower start than expected (maybe 0 for april and may) Bryce will be playing RF for the Nats come June 1.

  5. I’m confused…which isn’t saying much. But Luke, you wrote, “While this does not necessarily eliminate Bryce Harper from the OF mix, it does indicate that the talk of Jayson Werth playing in RF could just be that: talk.”

    Do you mean CF or RF? From what I gather, Morse would appear to be a lock at LF and Werth a lock at RF and the ST battle looming for CF. Or did I miss something??? Not nitpicking, just trying to catch up with the latest.

    I’m actually going to catch my first ST games ever, in mid-March and am looking forward to it. Should see the Nats against MIA & DET. So, if anyone has any tips for a rookie to Viera, please forward them!

    • CF — And I can tell you that my original phrasing was something like “moving from RF.” Arggh!

      As for tips, Dave Nichols wrote a piece about three years ago. And one of my favorites on Twitter for bringing the snark, @natsnq, wrote a post in December about how to improve things. He’s also quite accessible if you want to contact him directly.

      • Thanks Luke. And keep up your great work on this blog. No kidding, it is my first stop for Nats farm info every day. I especially love the upkeep of the Draft Tracker and Big Board. I also plan to print out / study the Watchlists and take them and my soon-to-be-dog-earred copy of 2012 BA Prospects Book with me to Viera. As it turns out, I also will be taking in a few games over in AZ while down visiting parents’ place in Mesa. Will be catching OAK, AZ, TX, CHC and MIL.

      • Thanks for the links Luke; I read both articles. I’ve been following both authors on twitter for a couple years now and enjoy their insights. BTW, today Mark Z posted Part I of his annual 2 part series on how to make the most of your Viera experience. It too is very informative. I’ve been poring over the various prospects lists and will try to come up with a short list of which players to zero in on during the 2 games that I attend. Can’t wait for March to get here!

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