Nats sign former Orioles prospect Snyder to minor league deal

The Nationals have signed former Orioles first-round pick and Northern Virginia product Brandon Snyder to a minor league contract.

Snyder, who turns 30 this week, will have an invitation to big league camp with an opportunity to compete for a spot on the opening day roster, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The Orioles made Snyder the 13th overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Westfield High School in Chantilly, but the corner infielder has struggled to stick in the major leagues ever since. He has played in 120 career games with four franchises (the Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox and Braves), hitting .242 with nine homers, 29 RBIs, a .279 on-base percentage and .738 OPS.

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A right-handed batter and fielder, Snyder returned to the big leagues this season with Atlanta after two years in the minors and showed some pop. He hit .239 with four homers, nine RBIs and a .907 OPS over 47 plate appearances but was outrighted to the minors after the season ended and elected to become a free agent.

The Nationals’ 2017 bench needs in the infield remain somewhat murky. Clint Robinson is under team control and figures to return as a left-handed complement to Ryan Zimmerman at first base. Stephen Drew, who backed up around the infield, is now a free agent. Several team officials like switch-hitting Wilmer Difo as a potential utility infielder. Danny Espinosa, for now, remains the starting shortstop but could wind up on the bench if Trea Turner is moved from center field.

Update: The Nationals announced the signings of three other players to minor-league contracts: left-hander Braulio Lara, right-hander Derek Eitel and infielder Corban Joseph. All receive invitations to big-league camp next spring.

Lara, 27, owns a 4.63 ERA in 241 career minor-league appearances (75 starts) with the Rays and Giants organizations. He had a 3.90 ERA in 25 relief appearances this season for San Francisco’s Triple-A affiliate and also pitched in 16 games in the Korean Baseball Organization.

Eitel, who turns 29 on Monday, has spent seven seasons in the minors with the Diamondbacks, Brewers and Padres, compiling a 4.47 ERA in 219 games (59 starts). He went 5-1 with a 3.67 ERA in 54 games for San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate this season.

Joseph, 28, played in two games for the Yankees in 2013, going 1-for-6 with a double and a walk. The younger brother of Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph, he’s a left-handed-hitting second baseman with a career .282 batting average and .775 OPS in nine minor-league seasons. He hit .315 with an .812 OPS in 107 games this season split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.

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