After six busy weeks of spring training competitions, it looks like the final spot on the Nationals’ opening day bench is finally set. However, the player will not be a winner of any competition this spring as the Nationals’ brain-trust has instead decided to get the player they need from the free-agent market, signing utility infielder and outfielder Kevin Frandsen.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 26, 2014
Frandsen, who spent the last two years as a utility player with the Philadelphia Phillies, is a career .259 hitter over parts of seven seasons with three major league teams. The 32-year-old is capable of playing all four infield positions as well as the corner outfield positions.
The move comes a day after the Nationals optioned Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse and released Jamey Carroll, both of whom were considered strong candidates to make the opening day bench. But Frandsen will provide manager Matt Williams with a more versatile option that he can use late in the game when he needs somebody who can play nearly any position in the field.
“I like options,” Williams told MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. “If we were to look for somebody else, it would be somebody that would give us multiple options, that has the ability to play multiple positions. It’s important for your team to have guys that move around, that are experienced in that regard, and they have done it.”
While today’s move certainly makes the Nationals’ bench stronger, it is bad news for Jeff Kobernus, who was also looking to make the opening day roster but was instead optioned to Triple-A Syracuse Wednesday evening. Signing Frandsen also means that we probably won’t see Moore at the big league level this season, at least not until rosters expand in September.
The bench was a major weakness for the Nationals last season and ever since the season ended, general manager Mike Rizzo has made it a top priority to build a bench that can help the Nationals achieve their goals in 2014. While it took all offseason and the last addition came with only five days to go until opening day, it looks like Rizzo and Williams finally have the bench that they wanted.
But only time will tell if today’s signing and a busy offseason will help the Nationals play deep into October in 2014. One thing’s for certain, the Nationals’ bench will be crucial to the team’s success this season.