The Nationals are bringing in another experienced major leaguer who wasn't on a major league roster at season's end, signing veteran third baseman Maikel Franco to a minor league contract, a source familiar with the deal confirmed.
Franco joins fellow infielder Dee Strange-Gordon, who agreed to a minor league deal of his own Saturday evening, as newly added veterans to a Nationals organization that is lacking in experience after this summer's trade deadline sell-off.
Like Strange-Gordon, Franco was eligible to sign a minor league contract during Major League Baseball's lockout because he wasn't on a 40-man roster when the 2021 season ended. His signing was first reported by The Washington Post.
Franco, 29, was a mainstay in the Phillies lineup for six seasons, averaging 24 homers, 77 RBIs and a .730 OPS from 2016-18. He produced solid numbers for the Royals during the shortened 2020 season (.278/.321/.457) but struggled in 104 games this season with the Orioles (.210/.253/.355).
Baltimore designated Franco for assignment Aug. 23. Two weeks later, he signed a minor league deal with the Braves, but never made it up from Triple-A Gwinnett before season's end.
Though he's never been known as an elite defensive player, Franco nonetheless figures to get a chance to compete with Carter Kieboom for playing time at third base next spring. His signing adds to a growing list of potential infielders who will be competing in West Palm Beach that also includes Strange-Gordon, Alcides Escobar, Luis GarcÃa, CÃ©sar Hernandez and Kieboom.