The Nationals gave fans an early Christmas present by singing five players with major league potential to minor league contracts. It was a return to normal for the Nats. A response to the New York Yankees swooping in and taking the apple of Jim Bowden’s eye, the free agent many considered out of our league, Mark Teixeira.
The Nats looked long and hard at themselves, their worth, and their plan…and evidently woke up and smelled the f*&%$*#@ coffee. They made some solid deals in the process.
The team inked former Oriole Corey Patterson, RHP Jorge Sosa, LHP Gustavo Chacin, infielder Jose Castillo and wayward Molina son; catcher Gustavo Molina. It was also the first day in MLB history that a team signed two Gustavo’s (not actually sure if that’s true…but its got to be).
Corey Patterson rose through the Cubs system as a future superstar who never quite developed into the promise his athleticism held. He finally put it together in his first season in Baltimore, batting .276 with 16 homers and swiping 46 bases. His second year was rather similar but while his stolen base numbers were high his OBP was abysmal (.314 and .304) so he couldn’t serve as a viable leadoff hitter.
He was traded and played absolutely horrendously for the Reds in 2008, batting .205 with an OBP of .238. The Nats are hoping that he may be able to be a more disciplined hitter as he approaches the age of 30, and may be able to be a true centerfielder and leadoff hitter for the club. Is this a likely outcome? No. But it is worth the risk of a one year deal valued at less than a million dollar.
Gustavo Chachin at one point in his career looked to be one of the better young left -handers in the American League. For Toronto at the age of 25 he posted a 13-9 season with a 3.72 ERA, showing a nasty curveball and good control with 70 walks in 202 innings for a rookie. His arm fell off in 2006 however and has only pitched 104 innings since, including none in 2008. He’s only 28 however, and if he has rebuilt his arm could very well be a starter in the Nationals rotation. The Nats signed him to a minor league deal for 90K, which bumps to 600K if he makes the major league club. Once again, no risk on this deal, potential high reward.
Jorge Sosa and Jose Castillo both have full-season major league experience and could contribute if they come to camp prepared. Both have the potential to be impact players but both have potential to be triple A fixtures. However…like the other signees, low risk, high potential.
Jim Bowden may know what the hell is going on after all.