The Washington Nationals have added to their veteran depth today by signing veteran INF Mark DeRosa, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The team also added to its veteran presence by signing OF Mike Cameron to a minor league deal earlier this week.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports yesterday, DeRosa's deal will be a one-year, major league deal, so DeRosa will join the big club to start the 2012 campaign. DeRosa could potentially play a number of roles. Much of this depends on the health of 1B Adam LaRoche. DeRosa could play the utility infielder role that Brian Bixler played with the team last season, which is what Rosenthal predicts. The bulk of his time could be spent at first base if LaRoche's health is still in question, however.
In his 14 season MLB career, DeRosa hit .272 with a .757 OPS. He has battled injury in recent seasons, but as recently as 2008, DeRosa put up a .285/.376/.481 slash line. He also played every position on the field that season, except for pitcher and catcher. The value of that type of player is significant for a team building around young talent. While it's hard to see DeRosa going back to 2008 numbers when he'll be 37 to start the season, he could be a valuable piece off the bench to give the Nats a jolt in the dog days of summer. His versatility will be extremely valuable.
DeRosa joins the, the nearly 39 year old Mike Cameron at the base of the Nationals "veteran movement" this offseason. The Nats have no shortage of young talent, and this push by GM Mike Rizzo for one-year veteran deals could be simply to add depth, but it could also be to add veteran voices to that of RF Jayson Werth with the likely loss of SP Livan Hernandez and C Pudge Rodriguez to free agency. Here's hoping that these signings turn out better than the Matt Stairs signing did last year.