While the Washington Nationals’ fan base awaited the eventual Max Scherzer signing, Mike Rizzo and company made a minor-league signing on Sunday. According to William Ladson of MLB.com, the Nats signed first baseman Kila Ka’aihue to a minor league deal that will include a spring training invitation:
The Nationals made a similar signing last week when they signed Mike Carp to a minor league deal. When you look at Ka’aihue’s numbers, he is a career .221 hitter in four seasons in the Majors. However, the 30-year old has been out of the league since 2012, when he played 39 games with the Oakland Athletics.
He spent the last two seasons playing professional baseball in Japan for the Hiroshima Carp. He hit .258 in those two seasons with 25 home runs and 85 RBI’s. In 2014, the left-handed hitter did improve his number in terms of doubles. After seven doubles in 2013, he hit 13 doubles in 2014.
The 15th pick by the Royals in the 2002 MLB Draft did have impressive fielding numbers in the Majors. He has only six errors in his career and had no more than two in any given year.
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While Ka’aihue showed some power in Japan, he hasn’t showed it on the major league level. His career-hjgh for home runs in a season is eight back in 2010 with the Royals. Keep in mind that the man from Honolulu, Hawaii has never played in more than 52 games in a given season. He did play 88 in Japan last year.
The key role for Ka’aiahue could be as the AAA first baseman in Syracuse. He has 94 career home runs at the AAA level, hitting no fewer than 11 home runs. In 2013, he hit .313 with 16 home runs and 50 RBI’s for AAA Reno (Arizona Diamondbacks organization). He would be released in June of 2013.
All in all, this isn’t a bad move by the Nationals to take a flyer on Ka’aihue as more first base competition in camp for a spot in Syracuse. Ka’aihue will be competing with Carp and fellow non-roster invitee Clint Robinson as well as Matt Skole, the fifth round pick of the Nats in the 2011 draft.