Well, it doesn’t mean too much, but it means something. On Wednesday morning, the Washington Nationals signed former Philadelphia Phillies infielder Kevin Frandsen to a one-year deal worth up to $1.6 million. While this does seem like a very small signing, it wasn’t made without some strategy in mind.
Right off the bat (baseball puns are too easy) you can assume that Frandsen will find himself on the bench. With Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond locked in around the infield, there isn’t an everyday place for him in the field. However, there is plenty of room on the bench. That is exactly where you will find Frandsen come Opening Day.
In 61 pinch-hitting appearances last year, Frandsen hit .250. That’s not fantastic, but it’s also not terrible. Compared to the poor pinch-hitting the Nationals had last year, it won’t take much to upgrade that area of the team. Adding Nate McLouth and Scott Hairston will help, but there was still some room for improvement. With Frandsen, they get another bat on the bench who can make things happen.
Defensively, he can do just about anything. In 2013, he played all around the diamond (outfield included) and did well. Frandsen has a career fielding percentage of 97-percent and has played every defensive position but pitcher and catcher. Meaning, his second role on the team will be the utility player that once was Steve Lombardozzi.
By signing Kevin Frandsen, the Nationals complete their bench. For a very cheap price, they get a player who can play virtually anywhere on the diamond and can be trusted off the bench to pinch-hit. Along with Hairston and McLouth, the top three bats on the bench are shaping up to be solid ones. You also can’t forget about the potential that Danny Espinosa brings. He’s a solid defender and can launch a baseball to the moon if he can get a hold of it.
It seems like a minor signing in the overall picture, but Frandsen will essentially kill two birds with one stone for the Nationals. He can hit, play defense and will be solid in the role that he is expected to fill. We’re days away from Opening Day and general manager Mike Rizzo made one last smart move prior to the regular season.