Nationals confirm minor league deal with veteran outfielder Mike Cameron

According to this tweet from senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals have reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Mike Cameron. It’s a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

The 38-year-old would fill the Nationals’ need for a right-handed-hitting backup outfielder who can play center field. Cameron can also play left and right, but 1,787 of his 1,921 career games have been in the middle.

General manager Mike Rizzo has been trying to upgrade the bench for manager Davey Johnson, and Cameron fits Johnson’s preference for veterans who can play multiple positions, play strong defense and add some offensive pop. The Indians had also been interested in Cameron.

The Nationals are banking that last years stats - Cameron hit .203 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 78 games between the Red Sox and Marlins - are an aberration and not an indication of what can be expected from a guy who will turn 39 on Jan. 8.

Cameron had 11 straight seasons of double-digit homers between 1999-2009, added nine seasons with 70 or more RBIs, won three Gold Gloves and made an All-Star team. In 17 seasons with eight clubs, he’s a career .249 hitter with 278 homers and 968 RBIs. He is one of five active players with at least 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases, joining Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran and Bobby Abreu.

It’s doubtful the Nationals consider Cameron a solution to their center field hole, but if he returns to his career means, the veteran could be a nice complementary piece in the outfield. Cameron could platoon with Roger Bernadina in center, but more and more, it appears Mike Rizzo is focusing on stopgaps until Bryce Harper is ready to take over in right field and considering moving Jayson Werth to center field.

Update: The Nationals have confirmed the signing via a news release.

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