Heading into the 2014 season, the Washington Nationals possess a distinction that the majority of Major League Baseball wishes they had. Outside of adding infield depth, potentially adding another lefty bullpen arm, and determining who will be the number 5 starter in the rotation, the 25-man roster is all but a formality at this point. While Ross Detwiler is the leader in the clubhouse to grab that 5th spot in the rotation come March 31st in New York, the infield depth situation has been addressed as well. Within the past week, the Nationals have heated up the utility infielder competition by signing Jamey Carroll, Mike Fontenot, and Emmanuel Burris.
Carroll was on the Nationals roster as a back-up infielder the year the team came to DC from Montreal and is a career .272 hitter with plus fielding skills at either shortstop or second base. At the current time, he would appear to have the edge heading into Spring Training, however will also be able to head to the minors for a in-season call up if need be.
Mike Fontenot spent all of his 2013 season in Triple-A Durham for the Tampa Bay Rays, but seems like the logical choice to compete with Carroll for a spot on the Opening Day Roster. A career .265 hitter, Fontenot does not possesses the defensive prowess and utility infielder versatility of a Jamey Carroll, but his left-handed bat could intrigue new manager Matt Williams off the bench.
Burris appears to be a long shot to make the club considering his .243 career average and below average defensive skill set. Washington Nationals minor leaguers Danny Espinosa, Zach Walters, and Jeff Kobernus will also be in the mix for a utility infield job. As the former starting second basemen, Danny Espinosa’s power and speed potential, combined with his Gold Glove-caliber middle infield skills makes him a Matt Williams favorite right from the get go. Heading into 2014 fully healthy, if Espinosa can prove to the Nationals he has cut down his swing and can hit for a decent average, then he is a lock to make the club in my opinion.