December 8, 2009
Not much was expected of the Washington Nationals as the annual winter meetings were approaching, but two major deals have come as a very pleasant surprise. On Monday the Nats obtained Yankee relief pitcher Brian Bruney for a player to be named later. Bruney can throw a fastball in the upper 90s, but he spent some time on the disabled list this year, which may be cause for concern. For now, he is in line to become the team's regular closer, a role they have sorely missed ever since Chad Cordero lost his "mojo" from his RFK Stadium days. (He was let go after the 2008 season.) Meanwhile, Nationals middle reliever Saul Rivera was released after a disappointing year, but manager Jim Riggleman said Rivera may yet return. See MLB.com.
Today we learned that the Nats signed catcher Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year contract worth $6 million, pending a physical exam. "Pudge" has played for the Rangers, Tigers, Marlins, Yankees, and Astros over the years, playing in 14 All Star Games altogether. Even though he is in the twilight of his career (just turning 38), he can still provide offensive punch, solid defense, and most importantly, veteran leadership to the Nationals. He will be considered the Nats' backup catcher, but may get plenty of playing time if the Nats' first-string catcher, Jesus Flores, needs more time to heal. Flores missed almost the entire 2009 season because of a freak shoulder injury. Unfortunately, this acquisition means that the journeyman catcher Wil Nieves will not be given an offer. See MLB.com