The Nationals are about to enter their 10th season since coming to DC, and because of that, the list of former Nats greats meandering around the league gets longer by the season. I asked my Nats Talk On The Go co-host Craig to define what “former Nats great” means to him, and he nailed the reason behind our love of these ex-Nats:
“2005-2009 were considered to be lean years for the Nationals franchise. Losses piled up as trader Jim Bowden continued to pick up player after player on the scrap heap. Many of these players had very short major league careers, some found success elsewhere, and some faded into obscurity.
“These players came into our lives at a time when quality baseball was hard to find in DC, so we latched onto their stories. They were stories of players coming to the majors for a cup of coffee and disappearing or players who turned into “gritty” hometown heroes.
“I’m attached to these players because they simply defined a five year period of Nationals baseball – faceless players who came into our lives but scarcely made an impact. Even after the 2009 season, the spirit of the former Nats great lives on.”
I thought we’d take a stroll down memory lane and remind you of some Nats players that you once loved who were involved in baseball transactions this offseason.
Jamey Carroll (2005) – Carroll’s made his triumphant return to the Nationals organization this offseason after signing minor league deal. At 40 years old, he’ll compete with Danny Espinosa and Zach Walters for a utility infield role on the Nats bench.
Tim Redding (2007-2008) – Somehow still the eighth winningest starting pitcher in Nats history, if you care about that sort of thing (you shouldn’t), Redding will return to the Nats as a pitching coach in 2014. He’ll work for the Auburn Doubledays, which is the team’s short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League.
Tomo Ohka (2005) – Ohka appeared in 10 games for the Nats in 2005 and posted a 3.33 ERA and 1.315 WHIP before being traded in June to the Brewers for Junior Spivey, who is another former Nats great. But that’s a story for another post.
Chien-Ming Wang (2011-2012) – Despite very little big league success in the last 5 years, Wang has once again found himself a contract. He’ll continue trying to recapture the magic of his Cy Young runner up season on a minor league deal with the Reds.
Alberto Gonzalez (2008-2010) – Only a player in our Nation’s Capital would take on a nickname like the “Attorney General” for sharing the same name as the leader of the Department of Justice around the time of his tenure. He signed a minor league deal with the Padres.
Wil Nieves (2008-2010) – Who? A true fan favorite and perhaps the quintessential former Nats great, he’s among the most loved Nats players by the media. Charlie and Dave still play his walk-up song on the radio when his team plays the Nats. He’ll be the Phillies’ backup catcher in 2014.
Marlon Byrd (2005-2006) – After a breakout year with the Mets and Pirates last season, Byrd signed a huge three-year/$24 million deal with the Phillies this offseason.
Other notable greats
Nyjer Morgan (2009-2010) – Signed minor league deal with Indians after playing in Japan last season. He’ll almost certainly be doing his Tony Plush thing in Cleveland at some point this year.
Matt Capps (2010) – The Nationals lone representative in the 2010 All-Star Game, he signed minor league deal with the Indians with invite to spring training.
Zach Duke (2012-2013) – Signed minor league deal with Brewers with invite to spring training
Xavier Nady (2012) – Signed minor league deal with Padres with invite to spring training
Kurt Suzuki (2012-2013) – A bunch of folks will be Zuked in the AL Central this season after Suzuki signed a one-year/$2.75 million deal with the Minnesota Twins.
Jerome Williams (2007) – Williams appeared in six games for the Nats with a 7.20 ERA before being out of the majors for three seasons. It looks like he may be playing with the Rangers this season.
Brendan Harris (2005-2006) – Non-roster invitee with the Dodgers, but he has a shot to make the team as a utility infielder.
David DeJesus (2013) - DeJesus may have the shortest tenure of any Nats player in history. He was on the roster for two days before being traded to the Rays. He’s signed to stay in Tampa for 2014.
So, that’s our best effort at a comprehensive list of former Nats greats who’ve made their way around the transaction logs in baseball this winter. Did we miss someone? Let us know.