WASHINGTON, DC: Rick Ankiel #24 of the Washington Nationals make a catch in center field in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
The Washington Nationals have signed outfielder Rick Ankiel to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, as is the custom.
The Washington Nationals are pretty much set. They're pretty much set just about everywhere but center field. They've long been in the market for a long-term middle guy, and just Sunday Nick Cafardo published this delightful bit of nonsense:
[John] Lannan, 27, is a terrific option as an end-of-the rotation starter now that Washington has signed Edwin Jackson. There is a lot of speculation that the Nationals will deal him to the Angels for center fielder Peter Bourjos [...]
That isn't going to happen. Here is something that did happen:
Little #nats news before the big game: Per a source, the #nationals have signed Rick Ankiel to a minor league deal w/ST invite.
Ankiel's now going to fight for a job. He, Mike Cameron and Roger Bernadina are all options to start for the Nationals in center in the beginning of the year. Bernadina's the only one of the three currently on the 40-man roster, for whatever that's worth.
Obviously, Ankiel doesn't represent any kind of long-term solution. If he did, he wouldn't be signing a minor league contract. The 32-year-old lefty was with the Nationals a year ago, batting .239/.296/.363 over 415 trips to the plate. He has an 82 OPS+ the last three seasons and at his age, he's probably not about to get better. But the Nationals do need to get by until the arrival of Bryce Harper, so with their current uncertainty in center, there's little harm in adding another body to the pile.