Washington Nationals: Alejandro De Aza added to depth mix
By Ron Juckett
In an effort to bolster needed outfield depth, the Washington Nationals signed Alejandro De Aza. Where does he fit into the bigger puzzle down the stretch?
The Washington Nationals added outfield depth Wednesday signing Alejandro De Aza to a minor-league deal. Assigned to Triple-A Syracuse, the veteran utility outfielder gives the Nats options with Chris Heisey recovering from a ruptured bicep.
With Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin filling in for the injured Jayson Werth and Adam Eaton, the Nats are out of major-league ready talent should another outfielder go down. Andrew Stevenson has struggled with International League hitting and Drew Ward is not ready.
At 33, De Aza is best known for his years with the Chicago White Sox. He can play all three outfield sports, but has more experience in left and center than right. With speed in his younger years, he slashed plenty of doubles and triples while stealing over 20 bases two straight years and double-digits for four.
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He is a strikeout machine, however, whiffing 147 times with the ChiSox in 2013. That was the lone year when De Aza hit double-digit home runs cranking out 17.
Signed originally by the Florida Marlins, he made his MLB debut with them in 2007 before the White Sox plucked him off waivers in 2009. De Aza held short stints with the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants before being a regular last year with the New York Mets.
Playing as a defensive replacement, De Aza struggled at the plate. His slash line of .205/.297/.321 gave him an OPS of .618 and an adjusted number of 75. Below average by 25 percent. In 234 at bats, he hit nine doubles and slugged six homers while fanning 67 times.
Invited to Arizona by the Oakland Athletics, De Aza did not make the club and was released this spring.
Not a great defender—in 2013, he posted a d-WAR of -2.1—De Aza provides an experienced body capable of playing any outfield position if an emergency arises.
At this point in his career he is a Quad-A player. The Mets started him 45 times last year with the bulk of his playing time in center. They gave him a handful of starts in both corner outfield spots.
If he gets the call from Syracuse, it would be to spell Taylor and possibly Werth upon his return. Taylor has played all but one game since Eaton’s torn ACL injury while Werth’s foot contusion has kept him out longer than first thought. After Heisey tried to rush through rehab with his rupture, it backfired.
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This is the proverbial scrapyard move, but all teams must make them. With luck, De Aza can find power with Syracuse and produce.