In a potential move to strengthen their bench, the Washington Nationals are after outfielder Angel Pagan. A smart move, if they pull it off.
Best known for his play with the San Francisco Giants, the Nats hope to lure the 35-year-old on a minor-league deal to get Pagan into camp.
With his experience and speed, Pagan would be a welcome addition to the club. However, there is only a role for him on the bench. As Adam Eaton roams center with Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper on the wings, there will not be ample playing time for Pagan.
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If Washington convinces Pagan to sign that battle changes. Heisey has a major-league contract, but Taylor and Goodwin both have one minor-league option left. Pagan can beat them both out.
The question is after his last deal paid over $10 million a year, would Pagan settle, even at this late date, for a mere minor-league contract?
You can understand why the Nationals like him. Pagan has some power, still hits for triples and steals double-digit bases. With a slashline last season of .277/.331/.418, his Adjusted OPS+ of 100 is league average. Add his 1.6 offensive WAR and he can make a difference.
Although his prime defensive days are behind him, Pagan has a proven track record and would add stability to an ever-deepening bench. One knock against the Nats this off-season was depth.
As with the return of Stephen Drew and signing of Adam Lind, GM Mike Rizzo has put those concerns to bed. When they added Matt Wieters, Washington bought themselves a trade chip for later with four catchers on the roster.
Pagan offers the Nationals a bridge until Victor Robles and Andrew Stevenson are ready to face major-league hitting. With Werth at the end of his deal, you can expect him to get more rest as the season grinds on.
With a “win now” attitude for the team, there is little patience to see what Taylor and Goodwin can build on. At some point, especially in Taylor’s case, potential must become actual talent. Signing Pagan, if it happens, speaks volumes in that regard.
Another benefit from a potential Pagan signing is his playoff experience. He won two rings with the Giants and can lend that extra hand to teammates on how to get over that playoff roadblock and to a championship.
Knowing he could get regular playing time elsewhere, if Washington lands Pagan with the promise of nothing more than a bench spot, it will mark a major coup for Rizzo and building a championship team under the table.