By Matt Snyder
The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign utility infielder Mark DeRosa, pending physical, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. Also in NL East news, the Mets announced via press release that they have signed catcher Rob Johnson to a minor-league contract.
DeRosa, 36, hit .279/.351/.302 in just 97 plate appearances last season for the Giants, as a serious wrist injury badly hampered him. He was a key cog in the Cubs' 2008 division championship and hit 23 home runs in 2009, but injuries and inconsistency have held DeRosa back since then. Still, he's said to be a great clubhouse guy and can still play three infield positions. Perhaps most importantly is first base, as DeRosa can back up Adam LaRoche -- who is returning from a season-ending injury -- and leave Michael Morse in left field. It's also conceivable that DeRosa could make spot starts at third to spell Ryan Zimmerman.
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Johnson, 28, hit a paltry .190 with a .544 OPS last season in 199 plate appearances for Padres. So he's a really poor hitter. There's a reason he keeps finding work, however, and that is because he works well with pitchers. He also threw out more than 35 percent of would-be base stealers in 2010 for the Mariners. As things currently stand, the Mets have Josh Thole slotted as the starting catcher, with Johnson competing for the backup job with guys like Mike Nickeas and Lucas May.
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