Fresh off their inaugural season, the Washington Nationals were looking to add outfield depth, and it came in the form of Michael Tucker.
In simpler, non-pandemic off-seasons, January was reserved for signing guys to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training. By this point, the top free agents had been signed to lucrative deals and the only pieces on the market were aging veterans looking to hang around or reclamation projects coming off of injuries. That was the case in 2006 when the Washington Nationals signed outfielder Michael Tucker.
After over-achieving their way to 81-81 finish the year prior, the Nationals were revamping their outfield a little. Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge, two holdovers from the Montreal Expos, were shipped to Texas for Alfonso Soriano. The plan was to move Soriano to the outfield, a position he had never played before.
With Jose Guillen and Marlon Byrd already entrenched in the outfield, there was only need for a fourth outfielder on the roster.
Enter Michael Tucker.
The veteran of twelve major league seasons was a journeyman of sorts, spending time with six teams prior to landing a minor league contract with the Nationals in 2006. Tucker had never been in one location for more than two and a half years at a time and was probably best known for his Cincinnati Reds days. Though, he did hit .385 with a team best five RBIs during the NLCS in 1998 with the Atlanta Braves.
At age 35, the .256 career hitter auditioned for a role on the Nationals that spring. The Nats were hoping to tap into the potential of the former first round pick. With a good training camp, Tucker could have earned the fourth outfielder spot and served as depth at first-base for oft-injured Nick Johnson.
Unfortunately for Tucker, plans didn’t work out that way. He was released from the Nationals on the last day of March, just before the team headed north. Ryan Church was the winner of the fourth outfield spot that season.
Tucker would sign a deal with the New York Mets and appear in 35 games, hitting .196. He never appeared in the big leagues again.