Nats Sign A. Boone, Make Rule 5 Picks

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, December 07, 2007 | 0 comments »

On the last day of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings, the Washington Nationals signed corner infielder Aaron Boone to a reported 1-year, $1 million contract. Boone, 34, son of Nats Special Assistant Bob Boone, played with the Marlins last season, hitting .286/.388/.423, with 5 homers and 28 RBIs in 69 games, playing mostly first and third base. He should serve as pinch-hitter and back-up at both positions for the Nationals.

In other news, the Nationals selected Matt Whitney and Garrett Guzman in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, which allows teams to select players from other organizations that aren't listed on the team's 40-man rosters. The caveat is that the player selected must stay on the selecting team's roster all season, or be offered back to the original team, or work a deal (cash or trade) to keep the player.

Whitney is a 24-year old corner infielder that hasn't played above Single-A in five minor league seasons. He has some power potential, hitting 63 home runs in 406 minor league games, while hitting .258/.339/.439. Whitney was selected from the Cleveland Indians organization.

Guzman, who will be 25 at the start of the season, missed the 2005 season after breaking his neck in a car accident. He is a utility outfielder who hits left-handed with gap power, something the Nats don't currently have on the roster. He is a career .290/.341/.439 hitter in six minor league seasons. He was selected from the Minnesota Twins.

BOTTOM LINE: Boone will help out, making the bench stronger by replacing Tony Batista. He's also much better defensively than Batista, and provides insurance against Zimmerman feeling any repercussions from off-season wrist surgery. He's also a good defensive replacement for Dmitri Young in the late innings without being a hole in the line-up should he need to hit, something which bit the Nats a couple of times late in games last season. Guzman is a candidate for the left-handed hitting reserve outfielder, along with Ryan Langerhans. Whitney seems superfluous, perhaps a draft and trade or maybe something to be worked out with Cleveland. The Nats did not lose anyone in the Major League Rule 5 Draft, indicative of the dearth of big league ready talent in the system.