Nationals Have Six Players For Four Spots

As Chico Harlan of the Washington Post explains, the Nationals now have six players for four spots following the Adam Dunn signing.  Harlan says the Nats prefer Dunn in left field if Nick Johnson is healthy, leaving Josh Willingham‘s role in question.  Here’s a look at the six players:

  • Adam Dunn: Agreed to play first base or left field.  Two-year, $20MM deal to become official today.
  • Nick Johnson: Has never played anywhere but first base.  Wants to play every day, but spent most of 2007-08 on the DL for leg and wrist injuries.  He’s fine with a trade.  Set to earn $5.5MM in ’09 in last year before free agency.  OBP machine.
  • Josh Willingham: Acquired along with Scott Olsen in November.  Missed 50 games in ’08 with back issues.  2009 is his first arb year; he submitted $3.6MM vs. $2.55MM from the Nats.  Free agent-eligible after 2011 season.  Has mainly played LF in big league career (68 innings at catcher, 3 at first base).
  • Austin Kearns: Friend of Dunn from Cincinnati days. Owed $9MM for ’09 (includes $1MM buyout for ’10). Has experience as CF and RF.  Dealt with elbow, foot injuries in ’08.
  • Lastings Milledge: Experience at all three OF positions. Turns 24 in April.  Under team control through 2012.  Didn’t hit much outside of August.  Manny Acta committed to him as the center fielder.
  • Elijah Dukes: Experience at all three OF positions.  Turns 25 in June.  Under team control through 2013.  .972 OPS after All-Star break in 29 games (dealt with calf/knee injuries).  Paid back child support; will not face prison time.

Two more, not mentioned by Harlan as those considered potential everyday players:

  • Willie Harris: Signed two-year, $3MM extension in December.  Has played all three OF positions and 2B in his career, plus a small amount of SS and 3B.  FanGraphs valued his ’08 defense so highly that they calculated him to be worth $14.6MM overall.
  • Wily Mo Pena: Exercised $2MM player option in October after Nationals declined $5MM club option.  Shoulder surgery in July.  Recently turned 27; had .472 career SLG prior to ’08.

The Nats also have Corey Patterson in camp on a minor league deal.  Seems like he chose the wrong team.

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