Dobbs returns to Marlins, Nats still looking for bench help

Scratch Greg Dobbs off the Nationals’ list of potential bench additions for 2012. The left-handed-hitting corner infielder/outfielder signed a two-year, $3 million deal Tuesday to remain with the Miami Marlins.

The 33-year-old Dobbs is a career .259 hitter with nine homers and 60 RBIs as a pinch hitter. Manager Davey Johnson wanted a guy or two on the bench who could run into a fastball late in a game, and Dobbs certainly fit that job description.

So the Nationals will continue their search for a left-handed hitter who can play multiple positions and pinch hit. Trouble is, there’s not another carbon copy of Dobbs on the free agent list compiled by MLBTradeRumors.

The lists at first and third base are a little thin (though an addition of, say, Prince Fielder, would lessen the Nats’ need at that position).

First basemen:
Russell Branyan (36)
Jorge Cantu (30)
Prince Fielder (28) - Type A, offered arbitration
Ross Gload (36)
Brad Hawpe (33)
Dan Johnson (32)
Casey Kotchman (29)
Derrek Lee (36) - Type B, offered arbitration
Xavier Nady (33)
Carlos Pena (34) - Type B, offered arbitration

Third basemen:
Wilson Betemit (30) - Type B
Jorge Cantu (30)
Eric Chavez (34)
Craig Counsell (41)
Wes Helms (36)
Kevin Kouzmanoff (30)
Felipe Lopez (32)
Miguel Tejada (38)
Omar Vizquel (45)

Branyan can play both positions, but has lost bat speed and batted only .185 in 37 games with the Angels last year. Cantu isn’t the same guy who drove in 100 runs in 2008 for the Marlins, and is a right-handed bat. Gload is a left-handed stick and fills the bill as an experienced pinch hitter - of his 93 games with the Phillies last year, only 14 were in the field (counting one as a DH in interleague play) - but he doesn’t play third base. He was 18-for-74 (.243) as a pinch hitter and has a career .270 hitter with eight homers and 43 RBIs in 300 pinch-hitting at-bats. Chavez bats from the left side, but has an inside track on returning to the Yankees, considering the unsure status of Alex Rodriguez’s sore knee. Helms is 36, plays both infield corners and has minimal experience at the outfield corners; unfortunately, he’s also contemplating retirement, though he became the active career leader in pinch hits when Matt Stairs retired after being released by the Nationals on Aug. 1.

At least last week’s signing of Mark DeRosa cushions the Nationals a little because of his flexibility. If they can’t come up with a left-handed stick they like, perhaps the Nationals will invite a couple of guys who fit that role to compete in spring training for a roster spot.

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