Turns out reliever Jeff Fulchino isn’t the only player who has recently signed a minor league contract with the Nationals, who are stocking up on fringe major leaguers to provide organizational depth and extra bodies in spring training.
According to multiple published reports, the Nationals have also agreed to deals - which include invites to spring camp in Viera, Fla. - with infielder Andres Blanco, outfielder Jason Michaels and right-handed reliever Waldis Joaquin.
The 27-year-old Blanco spent the past two seasons with the Rangers, and hit .224 with two homers and three RBIs in 2011, when back injuries landed him on the disabled list. He’s considered a good glove man who can play second base, shortstop and third base, and he’s a switch hitter. In six seasons with the Royals, Cubs and Rangers, he’s a career .255 hitter with three homers and 47 RBIs.
Michaels is the most experienced of the new additions. The 35-year-old has spent 11 seasons in the majors with the Phillies, Indians, Pirates and Astros as a reserve outfielder. He’s a career .263 hitter with 59 homers and 299 RBIs, but slumped to .199 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 89 games with Houston last season. As a pinch hitter, Michaels has batted .223 with seven homers and 46 RBIs in his career, so he could be in the mix for a bench spot, given that he can play all three outfield positions.
Joaquin has a 1-0 record and 5.40 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Giants. He turns 25 on Christmas.
Granted, these aren’t the kind of moves that generally get a lot of play, but every team makes them, hoping to cushion against injuries and provide enough players for the latter innings of spring training games and at Triple-A. The Nationals traditionally sign players to minor league deals with invites to major league camp, then announce a bunch of signings in one press release.