This is what I wanted to hear! The Nationals have signed Aaron Boone to be this year's Tony Batista with a 1 year, $1 million contract. As I mentioned previously, the anti-Red Sox karma is fine by me.
The news on WMP is a little more complicated then we thought it was last night. I'll let Barry break it down for you, legalese style:
They also agreed to the aforementioned extension with outfielder Wily Mo Pena, the one GM Jim Bowden said last night was innacurately reported by ESPN. The twist: Pena will get $2 million in 2008 -- thus avoiding arbitration and getting only a slight raise from his $1.875 million in 2007. But he'll have a mutual option for 2009. If the club picks it up, he'll make $5 million in 2009. If the Nationals decline, then Pena can pick up the option for $2 million.
Here's somewhat of a weird twist, considering today's earlier Rule 5 transactions, which I'll get into in a second.
Also: Ryan Langerhans brought back on a split major league/minor league deal. If he makes the big league club, he'll earn $500,000. He'd make $300,000 at the minor league level.
Ryan "If-I-Want-To-Palm-A-Basketball-I'd-Need-Langer"-hans, the lefty who doesn't hit his weight. Seriously. Hit .167, weighs 205. I'd lose some weight, if he's not gonna hit better just to avoid that distinction.
Rule 5 News: We picked two players, 1B Matt Whitney, who is a power hitting prospect that missed a year in the Minors after he broke his leg on a sprinkler head playing basketball (best run-on injury ever), and OF Garrett Guzman. Aside from the obvious clubhouse issue of having multiple Guzmanii, there is now a logjam in the outfield, even worse than before.
The Rule 5 draft has certain stipulations which I'm sure you are all aware, but in case you've somehow stumbled onto this blog from an odd google search, (You wouldn't believe the kind of search terms we get traffic from...particularly "ass apple" and "nipple"...weirdos) I'll break it down.
Each team fills up their 40 man roster with their 25 man active roster, and their high prized prospects that aren't quite ready yet. Every year, the Rule 5 draft allows teams to take unprotected players from other teams, under the stipulation that the player taken has to remain on the active roster all year. If not, the player has to be returned, and there may be a monetary cost too (although I'm not sure, and don't feel like looking).
The point here is, we've taken a 1B and another OF. One of whom is a lefty. In the Outfield, somebody has gotta go. It won't be Milledge or Dukes, because both don't have a high trade value. We just signed WMP to an extension, but similarly, his value won't fetch any high returns. That leaves us with Kearnsie. I've already said before , Kearns could be productive in the new ballpark. I think at the cost of his contract, we should keep him and send whichever of the new OF acquisitions doesn't pan out in ST to AAA. We could see if Langerhans has figured how to hit in the offseason (unlikely), see if there are any Lefty outfielders on the FA market that could be had on the cheap, or we could stick with Guzman. This last option is dangerous because of the lack of lefty bats, Guzman would get more at-bats than you like your Rule 5 pick to get (with Flores as an exception and not the rule). In my opinion, this was a stupid pick, and we should have picked up some players with non-guaranteed contracts so we're not hamstrung on keeping the guy on the squad the whole year because he has "potential" (a la Tony Blanco).
I like Whitney, only because he's younger than Tony Bats, and if he makes it through the season as a defensive replacement and pinch hitter, he adds to 1B depth in the minors, of which we don't have a lot (don't talk to me about Larry Broadway). I will miss Tony Bats and his running to first after being HBP and his occasional power shot, but we gotsta move on. This isn't the 2007 Nationals. This team might have a chance.
I'll write tomorrow about the Nationals relative gains in this not-yet-finished offseason, and maybe you'll be converted to our cult that thinks that next year, around September, we might be playing games that mean something.