Washington Nationals Rumors: 5 Veterans for 2014 Bench

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Five Veterans for the Nationals to Pursue

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After a magical 2012 where we saw the Nationals' bench come through almost every time it was asked to, fans saw a nightmarish 2013 where the bench fell flat on its collective faces every time it was called upon. In 2012, the Nationals led the majors in pinch-hitting batting average at .288, posting an impressive .288/.367/.420 slash line in 2012. Those stats paid off as Washington won 98 games and won their division. Compare that to Washington's 86-win 2013 where Nationals pinch-hitters posted an abysmal .207/.249/.357 slash line, and it should partially explain why the team won 12 fewer games and finished 10 games short of their second straight division title.

The Nationals' bench has been, needless to say, less than traditional by most team's standards. Usually, a team's bench is comprised of veteran players in the twilight of their careers who have just enough left in the tank to help a team, but not enough to play every day. These players can usually be counted on to start once or twice a week in the field and are usually older. Washington's bench was relatively young with the likes of Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore who need to play every day to get into an offensive groove.

For 2014, Mike Rizzo has said that he wanted to try and improve the team's bench, which is pretty obvious based on the stats laid out earlier. Washington could use more of a veteran presence on their 2014 bench. So, in honor of Veteran's Day, here are five veteran players that Washington should pursue for their 2014 bench.

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5. Kelly Johnson

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson could provide both second base insurance for Anthony Rendon as well as some pop off the bench. Johnson hits home runs, but doesn't hit for much average. He would probably work best in a platoon situation, but is still worth a flyer.

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4. Javier Lopez

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Lopez has essentially become a lefty specialist, but with Washington's lack of a solid left-handed presence in their bullpen, he would be a great veteran addition for the team.

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3. Jose Molina

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Molina is known for being a plus defender, a great pitch-framer, and for being really slow like the other Molina brothers. Molina would bring some pop off the bench, a great veteran influence for Wilson Ramos and the ability to start two or three times a week. He could even play regularly in the event Ramos goes down.

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2. Jason Bay

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, you read that right. Bay proved he can still hit the long ball even within the confines of Safeco Field, and being brought into Spring Training on an invite/incentive-laden deal would be a safe move for the Nationals. Bay hit 11 homers for the Mariners in 2013, and could be a decent fourth or fifth outfielder.

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1. Clint Barmes

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Barmes has fallen off offensively in the past few years, but he still plays solid defense and could transition to a utility infielder at 35. The Pirates may want him back, but he could be a solid option for Washington as well, as this could allow Ian Desmond a day off or two.

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