The Nats' signings of first baseman Josh Whitesell and utility man Eric Bruntlett to minor league deals won't do much to excite the fan base.
Whitesell is a 4A caliber player; a terrific defender and consistent hitter... in the minors. His 2008 line at AAA Tucson likely gave some in the Washington front office pause for putting him on waivers: .328, 26 homers and 110 RBI. An OPS of .993. Wow. He didn't do quite as well in '09 in 63 games at Reno: .293, 8, 58, and an OPS of .869. The D-Backs brought him to the big leagues and he hit .194, 1, 14 and .633 in 46 games. At 27 - 28 in April - Whitesell is past the point of being a real prospect, but can still make a pretty good living in the minor leagues.
Bruntlett is a different story. In 512 games with the Astros and Phillies, he's done everything but pitch and catch. He'll be 32 in March, and while he doesn't project as an everyday player, he may figure into the Nationals' plans, and will compete with Alberto Gonzalez for the extra infielder's role. He doesn't hit nearly as well as the Nats' other super-sub Willie Harris - .231, 11, 72, and .633 in 512 games - so it's hard to see him displacing Willie on the roster.
Bruntlett also has some postseason experience, and is considered another strong makeup guy, so those things may have been a factor in the club's decision to offer him a minor league deal. On Bruntlett's side of things, there are a lot of names still on the market and he likely wanted something tangible before the first of the year.