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Nats sign Boone, avoid arbitration with WMP

I fell down on pursuing this one, but the Nationals signed infielder Aaron Boone to a one-year, $1 million contract that includes incentives.

They also agreed to the aforementioned extension with outfielder Wily Mo Pena, the one GM Jim Bowden said last night was innacurately reported by ESPN. The twist: Pena will get $2 million in 2008 -- thus avoiding arbitration and getting only a slight raise from his $1.875 million in 2007. But he'll have a mutual option for 2009. If the club picks it up, he'll make $5 million in 2009. If the Nationals decline, then Pena can pick up the option for $2 million.

Boone: He's the veteran third baseman-first baseman who played last year in Florida, when he injured his knee and was limited to 69 games. But he did hit .286 with a .388 on-base percentage, and though he hadn't played much first base in his career, the Marlins were very pleased with his defense there. He could serve as this year's Tony Batista, a right-handed, veteran bat off the bench.

(This, of course, brings up the question of where just-selected third baseman Matt Whitney would fit, but that can all be sorted out in spring training depending on the health of players, etc.)

Boone's contract, according to a source familiar with a deal, calls for a $50,000 bonus if he plays 60 games, with $50,000 bumps for every 10 games played after that -- 70, 80, 90 all the way up to 150. In theory -- and it seems impossible to envision a scenario he'd play 150 games -- he could make an extra $500,000, bringing the total package to $1.5 million.

Pena: Deal seems good for the club. He makes slightly more than he did a year ago. If he proves himself worthy of an everyday job -- and there's now stiff competition, obviously -- then he comes back for the reasonable price of $5 million. If he doesn't establish himself and he thinks he can't get more on the open market, he'll cost the Nats a very affordable $2 million.

Also: Ryan Langerhans brought back on a split major league/minor league deal. If he makes the big league club, he'll earn $500,000. He'd make $300,000 at the minor league level.

Talking to Manny Acta in just a bit. Will get you more -- but will also have to hack for $.35 edition in order to catch my own flight.

By Barry Svrluga  |  December 6, 2007; 12:14 PM ET
 
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Next: Boone: "I'm very excited"

Comments

i hope the incentives would revolve around not playing much...

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Boone and Whitney? Are we fielding a team of first basemen next season?

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 6, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

All these new IFs and none can play 2nd or SS, right?

Posted by: AJ | December 6, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Depending on the health of Nick Johnson, I assume that Boone will primarily serve as a pinch hitter.

Posted by: Annapolis | December 6, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Who's on first?

No, you idiot, NickJohnsonDmitriYoungAaronBoone's on first.

Posted by: SuicideSqueeze | December 6, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Boone played ss for Cincinnati for several years.

Posted by: ce | December 6, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Despite what Georgetowner said yesterday about me, I am not upset about the Boone pick-up. I don't think it makes sense in light of the pick-ups in the Rule 5 draft this morning, but I'm also guessing that they think either: 1. Whitney won't work out and they will end up sending him back or doing what they did with Speigner last year. 2. They are thinking that someone can learn to play shortstop.

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | December 6, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I thought Hu was at 2nd?

Posted by: CE | December 6, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Boone as PH?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 6, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

i want trades.

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that it is much of a stretch to interpret Boone's signing and drafting Whitney to indicate that there are some real concerns about whether or not Nick Johnson will be back.

Posted by: lowcountry | December 6, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Maybe JimBow believes in genetics. Boone's Grandfather was a catcher in the Majors a year or two ago.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 6, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

boone has played 30 games at SS over his 10 yrs in the majors, last in cincinnati (5 games in 03, 16 in 02).

http://www.baseball-reference.com/b/booneaa01.shtml

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

zimmerman AND nick johnson are recovering right now....

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Oops, my bad. It is his father who was a catcher.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 6, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

This is why it's interesting to be a Nats fan in Ohio, almost the entire roster is made up of former Reds and Indians! Actually, Aaron Boone played for both clubs.

Posted by: Jason | December 6, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone think that Boone could be our backup 2B/SS if we intend to trade Felipe Lopez? I know Boone played 2B a few years back, so I was curious if we could get by with him there, if an injury strikes...

Posted by: GM | December 6, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"Does anyone think that Boone could be our backup 2B/SS if we intend to trade Felipe Lopez? I know Boone played 2B a few years back, so I was curious if we could get by with him there, if an injury strikes..."

No. Boone is the new Tony Batista. But with a stance that doesn't hurt to watch.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 6, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Aaron Boone CAN play SS

But I don't believe Aaron Boone can PLAY SS

If you know what I mean

Posted by: Brian | December 6, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Certainly sounds like there is more to come. But I will miss checking on an hourly basis like this week. Great work Barry!

So, anyone check out the DC Sports Blog entry on Milledge? I think this is the best rebuttal to the whole gangsta rap story yet.

Posted by: GoNats | December 6, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

i could see boone as backup at 2B. SS? maybe the emergency #3 SS.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Boone will be good to irritate all of the people who come to Nats games wearing Red Sox hats.

Sorry, Barry.

Posted by: Svrlugamania | December 6, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

From this post: "Ryan Langerhans brought back on a split major league/minor league deal."

From the previous post: "Bowden said he (Guzman) would compete with Ryan Langerhans for the fifth outfield spot."
----------------------------------------
What is this fascination with Langerhans? Am I misreading his career stats? Couldn't virtually any player in the Nats' farm system compete with him and beat him out? If you need a fifth outfielder who can pinch-run and play some late-inning defense, why not keep Nook? Someone please enlighten me.

Posted by: Bratislava, Slovakia | December 6, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

There are whispers that the Nationals are concerned about third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's health in his recovery from wrist surgery.

Posted by: Jerry Crasnick (ESPN) | December 6, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I and my friend mercilessly mocked Aaron Boone last season during a Nats-Marlins game delayed by over two hours with rain. Boone kept drying the bat in between his legs, in I'd say a rather family unfriendly way. Boone eventually started drying the bat on his shoulder, so clearly he got the message. The guy's a weirdo.

Posted by: Icarus | December 6, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

yea, i've been whispering it for about two weeks!

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Barry you do a great job with this blog!

Mark Zuckerman from the Washington Times also has a great blog. Everyone go check it out. Tons of good info from the winter meetings!

http://video1.washingtontimes.com/chatter/

Posted by: natsfan07 | December 6, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Bowden isn't done and Johnson isn't healthy. Only possible explanation.

We have a 3b who played every game last year plus Belliard can play 3b for a couple of innings here and there as he did last year. Then we have the Meat at 1b who will need some days off and probably will have a minor injury or two (he's getting up there). Then Whitney AND Boone to back those two up??

Really don't think Boone will play middle IF. There will have to be another middle IF on the 25 man by April 1 (sorry March 30).

Agree w/ others who say Boone and Whitney will compete for 1b/3b/ph back up position but that it's basically Boone's job to loose and barring a mirace Spring by Whitney, they drop him. That clears room for the utility infielder they need to help Belliard back everyone up.

Posted by: Avar | December 6, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but it seems like the club is building their squad with throwaway parts from other teams.

The Boone signing would have been great - before they decided to sign Whitney. Of course he does fill the need for more Ex-Reds on the roster, so in that sense he's a success.

Posted by: FearlessFreep | December 6, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

From what I've observed, it's not uncommon for a player to do that, or to prop the bat up against his, um, equipment during a pause in an at-bat.

---

I and my friend mercilessly mocked Aaron Boone last season during a Nats-Marlins game delayed by over two hours with rain. Boone kept drying the bat in between his legs, in I'd say a rather family unfriendly way. Boone eventually started drying the bat on his shoulder, so clearly he got the message.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 6, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Also just realizd the obvious, they didn't give WMP that contract to sit on the bench or be in Columbus, he's playing every day in LF, Kearns in RF so Milledge/Dukes/Logan will compete for CF and Guzman II will back them all up. Think Aaron Boone also played some OF so he could be a versatile back up defender like Fick, except he can actually hit.

So, maybe they trade one of these corner IF guys for a decent catcher??

Also forget to weigh in on Logan. He showed promise at the end of the year. Granted always breaks the wrong way on the ball and needs a map on the bases but he showed promise. Maybe he has a great spring and puts Dukes in AAA to start the year.

I like having too many guys for the 25 because people will get hurt and you'll need guys at Columbus who can actually play to step in when that happens.

Posted by: Avar | December 6, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

So what else is new? That's Bowden's MO.

-----

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but it seems like the club is building their squad with throwaway parts from other teams.

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 6, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

according to baseball-statistics.com (link to boone above), boone has never played OF. at least in the majors.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Insignificant moves

Posted by: PoorMansProphet | December 6, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

catcher please...

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

fyi, jim callis from baseball america's take on the milledge trade:

=====

This looks like another trade driven, at least in part, by a player's questionable makeup. Milledge scared off some clubs after he was investigated for sexual misconduct while in high school, and he turned off some Mets with his attitude when he was first called up to the majors in 2006. He didn't help his cause by contributing to an offensive rap album or by drawing a three-game suspension for arguing with an umpire last season.

Milledge carries a lot of baggage, and New York apparently had enough. I still think he's more talented than fellow ballyhooed Mets outfield prospect Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez, and I thought he would have emerged as New York's everyday right fielder in 2008 if given the chance. He's still just 22 and six years from free agency.

Nationals GM Jim Bowden always has loved toolsy athletes, so it wasn't an upset that Milledge wound up in Washington. The surprise was that is cost so little. Schneider's offensive game has collapsed, and while Church is useful, he has nowhere near Milledge's upside.

Guess all those reports that Athletics GM Billy Beane coveted Milledge were exaggerated, because he could have had Milledge cheap.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Aaron Bleeping Boone!

Good pick-up: He seems to be OK with the PH/backup role, plus Da Meat needs a defensive caddy, so there's a double switch role available that helped Fick make his appearance bonus, if he had one. If AB stays healthy, he'll pick up some appearance money.

If drafting Whitney was a way for Bowden not to appear too eager to sign Boone, it was $25,000 well spent.

Downside: Another right-hander? Are they planning on playing 162 games against the 1980 Yankees?

Posted by: Section 418 (former 307) | December 6, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

From the official site:

Boone will most likely be the first option off the bench. He can play all infield positions and provide some pop with the bat.

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 6, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

WMP is now being paid to stay, Kearns is set, and they aren't about to let Dukes out of their sight while he's working for them. I can't see the sense in drafting a Rule 5 guy and then not giving him more than a few weeks to play himself out of the organization, but maybe that's just me. Lastings (CMIIW) has options, and Nook is Nook. Langerhans is, umm, lefthanded, inexpensive, and probably gets through waivers if need be, but Bowden did sound like he would have a chance to win a roster spot--go figure.
So if Dukes blows up, Peña is just OK, Nook started hitting only because it was off September pitching, and Kearns comes back with .265/15/75 again, they might wind up glad to have GGuz after all.

Posted by: Behind every silver lining | December 6, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

While Schneider's offensive game really has collapsed, what are the other options and how much do they cost? We all know Stan and Ted aren't going to actually pay for someone more expensive than Schneider.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 6, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

you people are silllly
our infield is fine, look at all the options

whitney can play 3b and 2b, ss in emergency
lopez has played ss and 2b
belliard has played all 4 spots
guzzy could play 2b or 3b if needed
boone has played 3b, ss, 2b and 1b
and zim could play ss or even 2b

so whats there to worry about?? the late inning changes could make your lineup card spin

Posted by: love | December 6, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

i agree with the love. this is much better than Fick, Jimenez, T batista...

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

definitely agree it's a big upgrad but there are still issues to resolve.

Posted by: Avar | December 6, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Just being ready for all the injury recovery questions. $25000 to return a Rule 5 is pretty insignificant these days. Let'em come to camp and see what they got and where we are with Nick & Zim....not to mention Dukes attitude.

......................
definitely agree it's a big upgrad but there are still issues to resolve.

Posted by: Bazz | December 6, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

personally, i think love *completely* overestimates the abilities of a number of players to play multiple positions.

to steal a comment made on boone somewhere earlier on NJ, many of them *CAN* play those positions, but can they *PLAY* them? methinks not. maybe for a 13th inning switch because there are no other options...

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

but...but...my ribs in Toronto value is off the charts!! YEARGHH!!!

====

Langerhans is, umm, lefthanded, inexpensive, and probably gets through waivers if need be, but Bowden did sound like he would have a chance to win a roster spot--go figure.

Posted by: NR Langerhans | December 6, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, and Barry has a new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 6, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

more interesting options:

2:15 p.m., from Enrique Rojas
• Jaime Torres, the agent for Cuban slugger Alexei Ramirez, left Nashville after meeting with five teams interested in the player. Torres said that he expects to meet with two other clubs in the next couple of days. Ramirez, the home run leader in the Cuban national tournament in 2006, can play second base or the outfield. He left Cuba and settled in Dominican Republic two months ago.

===

now *that* looks like someone to pay attention to and potentially spend money on. at least if he's actually any good (which i don't know for sure). make Flop the utility guy, guz SS, and torrez 2B. flop is good insurance for either of them.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

err... ramirez at 2b, not his agent torres... ;)

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

info about ramirez...

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3029743

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

But Torres can play 2nd, SS, 1st, or catch in an emergency.

*******
err... ramirez at 2b, not his agent torres... ;)
Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 03:04 PM

Posted by: Toonces the Cat | December 6, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

JimBo. Pitching? Hello.

Posted by: rg019571 | December 6, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

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