He’s 32 and a .271 lifetime hitter, playing middle infield. He’s a two-time All-Star.
His resume is better than most, but Cristian Guzman can’t find a job this off-season. Last year, he batted .282 with the Nationals - coincidentally, his average over five seasons and 550 games with Washington - and now finds himself waiting for his agent to find an opportunity somewhere, anywhere.
Guzman understands that, at this stage of his career, he’s a bat off the bench, a spare cog. He must also understand that his days of multimillion-dollar contracts is over. He’s made more than $40 million over the course of his career, and now may have to accept a minor league deal if he wants to keep playing. If this was 40 or 50 years ago, he’d be a classic pinch-hitter in the mold of Smokey Burgess, Jerry Lynch or Jose Morales. But that was then, this is now.
Guzman caught a lot of grief from some Nationals fans after he batted .219 his first season in D.C. It turned out that he couldn’t see, and laser surgery turned him into a much better hitter. He had other injuries that cost him playing time - he missed the entire 2006 season and two-thirds of 2007 - but when he was healthy, you could never accuse him of complacency. He loved to play, and while a Gold Glove wasn’t likely, he played hard and had a real knack of putting the bat on the ball. He didn’t walk much, but slugged .389 with the Nats, thanks to a lot of two-base hits.
When the Nationals celebrate their 10th anniversary - or maybe they’ll wait for their 20th - I’m sure you can count on Guzman coming back to town for the festivities. I hope his career isn’t over, but if it is, he’ll hold a rather unique distinction, having played for all three franchises (the Twins, Nats and Rangers) that once - or still do - call Washington home.