The Washington Nationals have continued their busy holiday season. According to multiple reports, the Nationals have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent slugger Eric Thames. The deal will pay him $3 million in 2020 with a $1 million buyout on a $4 million mutual option for 2021. The team has not yet announced the signing.
Thames, 33, spent the last three seasons with the Brewers after finding his game with the NC Dinos in Korea. Since returning to MLB, he's hit .241/.343/.504 and averaged 30 homers and 66 walks per 162 games. Thames is a liability in the field and he will strike out a bunch, but he is a steady source of power against righty pitching, and a fine bench bat for a National League team.
Washington has been very busy the last week or so. In addition to re-signing Stephen Strasburg and Howie Kendrick, the club also recently re-signed Asdrubal Cabrera and Daniel Hudson, and signed Starlin Castro and Will Harris to fortify the infield and bullpen. The team remains in contact with franchise icon Ryan Zimmerman and a reunion is possible as well.
Manager Dave Martinez's regular lineup could look something like this next season given the available personnel:
- SS Trea Turner
- RF Adam Eaton
- LF Juan Soto
- 1B Howie Kendrick
- 3B Asdrubal Cabrera
- 2B Starlin Castro
- C Kurt Suzuki
- CF Victor Robles
- Pitcher's spot
Thames could platoon at first base, perhaps with Kendrick moving over to second or third base on those days. He could also play the outfield in a pinch, though Michael Taylor figures to occupy a bench spot and get first crack at fourth outfield duty.
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Washington's luxury tax payroll is up to $194 million, comfortably below the $208 million threshold. Signing Josh Donaldson to replace Anthony Rendon is still possible but it would push the Nationals well over the luxury tax threshold. Washington isn't acting like a team that expects to sign Donaldson. That's for sure.