For everyone who's complained about other players who the Nationals have signed to minor league contracts - see Estes, Shawn - the prospect of Kris Benson seems much farther out there.
Granted, Mike Rizzo and Benson's agent are just talking at the moment, but Benson, at 35, is several years removed from his best work. The former first overall pick out of Clemson in 1996 had his best year in 2000, when he pitched to a 3.85 ERA in 32 starts for a 93-loss Pirates' team. Otherwise, he's a guy who gives up roughly four-and-a-half runs per game, at best a back end of the rotation type. After 11 wins - and 3 complete games - with the '06 Orioles, he had surgery for a torn rotator cuff, and missed all of 2007. Benson had previously missed the entire 2001 season after Tommy John surgery. He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies' in 2008, going 1-6, with a 5.78 ERA in 13 games between AA & AAA. To be fair, his ERA over his final 9 starts was under four.
He got a shot with Texas last year went 4-6, 5.25 in 11 minor league starts. The Rangers called him up anyway, and in 8 games - 2 starts - he allowed 21 earned runs in 22.1 innings. He was returned to the minors in June and released at season's end.
Benson is in no position to bargain, based on his struggles over the past two seasons. If he shows up in Viera, it will have to be a complete no-risk situation for the Nationals.
Let me add this: There's no question that Benson is a quality person. He's taken his share of lumps physically over the years and keeps trying to come back. He takes a lot of ribbing about his spouse, Anna, a model whose occasional controversial quotes have gotten more ink than they probably deserve.
But, Benson in a Nats' uniform this year?
I fail to see the upside.