The Winter Meetings officially ended Wednesday. The Nationals stuck around Nashville a bit longer and went home with their first major-league free agent signing of the offseason.
The Nats signed former Reds utilityman Nick Senzel for $2 million (plus $1 million in incentives) overnight, a source familiar with the deal confirmed. This came shortly after Cincinnati signed former Nats third baseman Jeimer Candelario for a reported three years and $45 million.
Senzel, 28, was non-tendered by the Reds last month after a second straight disappointing season, during which he batted .236/.297/.399 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs in 104 games. His defensive versatility, though, remains a strength.
Senzel has played center field, third base, second base, left field and right field during his five-year career. The Nationals could use help at several of those positions in the short-term, so it’s possible they’ll have him move around the field depending on their needs on any given day, though a club source said the initial intention is to play him primarily at third base as the organization waits for top prospect Brady House to reach the majors.
The second-overall pick in the 2016 Draft out of Tennessee, Senzel came to the Reds with high hopes of becoming a star. It didn’t happen. After a solid rookie season in 2019, he missed significant time in 2020 and 2021 with injuries, then struggled in both 2022 and 2023 after returning healthy.
With an influx of young talent arriving in Cincinnati last summer, Senzel became expendable and was non-tendered in November. He won’t be eligible for free agency until 2026, so even though this contract is for one year, the Nationals retain his rights for two.
The signing is similar to last winter’s deal for Dominic Smith, who had been non-tendered by the Mets and then joined the Nationals for $2 million, with a second year of control attached. Smith impressed defensively at first base but struggled at the plate, so the Nats wound up non-tendering him after the season and now are again in the market for a first baseman.
That Senzel would sign with the Nationals on the same night Candelario signed with the Reds also was notable. Candelario did enjoy a big bounceback season in Washington after signing last winter for $5 million. The Nats traded him to the Cubs in July for prospects DJ Herz and Kevin Made but made it clear at the time they would consider bringing him back this winter.
Candelario, who also expressed his interest in returning to D.C., instead now goes to Cincinnati, which offered him a three-year deal worth an average of $15 million in incentives, plus a fourth-year option for another $15 million.
Senzel’s deal with the Nationals was first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Candelario’s deal with the Reds was first reported by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
MASNsports.com's Bobby Blanco contributed to this report from Nashville.