Washington Nationals Minor Roster Moves (2/7)
The Washington Nationals made two roster moves over the last twenty-four hours.
First, the Nationals have signed veteran catcher Koyie Hill to a minor league deal with a spring training invitations. Hill will join another veteran, Chris Snyder, and younger backups Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano in a four man fight to back up starter Wilson Ramos. The position backing up Ramos as starter has been one of the rare positions that Nationals failed to address in the off-season.
Hill, a switch-hitter spent parts of 10 seasons between the Dodgers, D-backs, Cubs and Marlins, and played only 8 games with Maimi at the big league level last season. In 331 career games, Hill has hit .206/.266/.287, with eight home runs and 76 RBIs.
Washington has been in month long discussion with Tampa Bay regarding backup catcher Jose Lobatan. However, no deal is within sight right now and Tampa Bay could drag Lobatan into spring training before agreeing to any deal.
The Nationals also brought back a 2005 Nats roster original, pitcher Luis Ayala. Ayala joins 2B Jamey Carroll as two former Nats from the original 2005 club to be signed this off-season. Ayala, like Hill, was signed to a minor league deal with a spring training invitation. Although 36 years old now, Ayala still put up decent numbers last season between Baltimore and Atlanta. He was traded from the Orioles to the Braves in April last year. He only appeared in 37 games and recorded a 2.90 ERA over 31 innings, striking out 20 batters and walking 13.
In other news, the Nationals have been approached by twelve different teams on the availability of 2B Danny Espinosa. Espinosa started at second base in 2011 and 2012, but lost his starting job to Anthony Rendon last season, after batting just .158 over 44 games. Espinosa was bothered by a fractured wrist. After 44 games, Espinosa was assigned tot he minor for the remainder of the season. Espinosa has been told by new Nats manager Matt Williams that he will have every opportunity to win his starting job back in spring training. It will be a much watched battle that we will keep our eye on during the pre-season. Apparently at this time, the Nats are not interested in dealing Espinosa.