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Washington Nationals sign Willy Taveras to minor league deal

Adding depth to their outfield, the Nationals on Monday signed Willy Taveras to a minor league deal, a contract that includes an invitation to spring training. Potentially, Taveras could make the team as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

The 28-year-old, who spent last season with Cincinnati, is a .276 career hitter known mostly for his speed and base-stealing ability. In 2008, as a member of the Colorado Rockies, Taveras led the National League with 68 stolen bases. He ranks 23rd among active players in career stolen bases (194), and he has an 82.2 percent success rate.

Taveras's career has zig-zagged in the last year, precipitated by a dismal 2009 season in which he hit .240 (404 at bats), with just a .276 on-base percentage.

After one season with the Reds, Taveras was traded at the beginning of the month to Oakland. The A's released him one week later, even though they owe his $4 million salary for 2010 -- the final season of a two-year, $6.25 million deal. The Nationals must only pay Taveras the league minimum.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 15, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
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Next: Your official spring training 25-man roster prediction


for those Google Buzz early adopters like me, here's a BuzzThread for some Nats Talk.

enjoy. or not. your choice!

Posted by: JMW4th | February 15, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Reopst (with edits)
Anyone have any idea what Taveras is like in the field?
Posted by: Sunderland | February 15, 2010 2:31 PM
He looks to be decent at tracking balls (career .985F%, 2.68RF/9), but might have an accurate & good arm (39 asst. in 5 years). Compare to Morgan (.988F%, 2.84RF/9, 15 Asst in 3 years).
Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 3:01 PM

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Umm, that was a repost, not a reopst...

A small nit, but the Nationals "need" only pay, not "must" only pay Tavares the minimum (if he makes the roster); If they offered him more, they pay him more.

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse


I seem to recall his doing pretty well in postseason games with the Rockies (unless I'm misremembering).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 15, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

This is insane. Does Syracuse have a secret 4x100 relay team? With Bernadina, Owens, Taveras and Nyjer, just how many of the same skill-set players do we need? Is Nook Logan coming back next? I'd be a lot happier if we were stockpiling arms instead.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | February 15, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I am not inspired by this move, but was reminded that the Nats had once unsuccessfully tried to trade Tim Redding for Taveras. That failure allowed us to avoid his truly awful season last year.

I guess one fun activity for Spring Training is to choose your favorite dark horse. I don't necessarily mean the person you expect to stick, but the one you will root for to make the roster. For me it's Chris Duncan among the position players, and Chuck James among the pitchers. Heck, what better player name is there for DC than Chuck James?


Posted by: kevincostello | February 15, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

With Oakland eating 4 mil of salary for this player and us on the hook for only 400K , seems like another low-risk signing for the Nats. Let's get this Wang signing under our belts and get spring training started already !!! It's been a LONG winter !!!! Go NATS !!!!!

Posted by: MTLNatsPatsHabsFAN | February 15, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

@1a1: Overall, you're right (.267BA/.329OBP/.348SLG slash line), with a 'killer' .357/.400/.429 in 2005 (HOU v ATL); Not that that counts for anything right now.

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals appear to have cornered the market on street free agents looking for a spring training invite.

Can there be anyone else out there that has not yet been signed who is cheap and available?

Posted by: leopard09 | February 15, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I kind of like these moves, because it's a case of beefing up the inventory, which is the phrase I believe Rizzo has used before. On the positive side, it means we may see what kevincostello is talking about, a dark horse emerging to make the roster. I even agree wit his two choices: Duncan and James.

The down side: it's pretty clear that this organization has next to no talent ready to play capably at the AA or AAA level. There are a handful of guys who qualify as prospects or guys who could give you depth at the big league level, but not enough of them. The scouts and front office have to step up their game from here on.

Posted by: baltova1 | February 15, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

This is a nice move in that it adds MLB ready CF depth to the club and a guy with a similar skill set to Moragn should a hamstring tweak or whatever. Pretty nice late innings D or pinch run type player too should a roster spot be avilable for him on the 25 out of ST. And nice inventory should a move be made.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 15, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse


No, no, no. The name Nook Logan shall never be referenced or uttered again in this forum unless it is a link to Charlie Slowes call of the game NL ended with a bonehead running play. I certainly agree with your point, though.

JMW4th- I looked at your link, and admitted to myself that I am not an early adopter. I may get there eventually, though.


Posted by: kevincostello | February 15, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

@sjm3091 -- I'm with you. Camilo Pascual was one of my favorites, too. He had that killer over-the-top curveball that was pretty close to Blyleven status! Here's a fun factoid about Pascual. He was the Senators' opening day starter in 1969 at RFK in Ted Williams' first game as Nats' manager.

Posted by: OldSkoolDiehard | February 15, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

If Taveras makes the team out of Spring Training, the Nationals are moving backwards. if that's possible.

Posted by: deMille_Ondefloss | February 15, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The guys got speed, he's above average defensively and he has plenty of ML expierence. Eventhough he has a putrid OBP this is not a bad signing at this point.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 15, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

@InTheCheapSeats: Some call it insanity, some call it depth. There is now a nice mix of speed (Taveras, Owens) & Pop (Davis, Duncan, Mench, Moresi) in SYR to pull from should the 'injury-bug' once again strike the Nationals.

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse


Yes, he's very fast. Unfortunately, he's also not very good at playing baseball at the major league level.

Posted by: deMille_Ondefloss | February 15, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Love the move, maybe Rizzo is still trying to move Willingham for a young arm.

Posted by: DMoney28 | February 15, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

@+1/2St: I like the idea of a "dark horse' pre-season call. Put me in for Mike Morse (an under-the-radar sub at four positions [1B-3B-LF-RF]), and Josh Wilkie (not even a NRI, but I like this kid's moxie).

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

@deMille_: If Taveras makes the OD 25-man, it will be because 1)Bernadina's ankle injury was 'Valentine-esque', & he can barely walk, let alone run, AND 2)Maxwell completely punks out in Viera. Not very likely, imo. He's a CF, first & foremost - Morgan would have to go down as well for him to escape from SYR to start the season.

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Trying to figure out to whom or what "Valentine-esque" refers.

(I'm guessing it's a person named Valentine, but who? WHO?)

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 15, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I think that Morse is gonna have a hard time getting on the field with this club. Harris and Desmond look to take up a lot of sub AB's. Zim plays pretty much every day and they'll want Willingham for the RH pop at 1B when Dunn may get a rest. Morse showed some power late last year but he has 50 HR in something like 2,200 minor legue AB's so it is not like he's a real threat for the long ball. He may be out of options too, which could effect whether he even ends up with the club out of ST.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 15, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

1/2St., you're right about the Redding deal for Taveras. It's an indication of interest spanning GM regimes, and I find that very interesting.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 15, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

mlbtr just posted lists of Players (per team) who are out of options. For the Nationals (position)...
Washington (9) -
Jason Bergmann (RP), Brian Bruney (RP), Sean Burnett (RP), Matt Chico (RP), Tyler Clippard (RP), Doug Slaten (RP), Tyler Walker (RP), Mike Morse (IF-OF), Josh Willingham (OF).

To my (somewhat pleasant) suprise, Shiron Martis (SP) is not on the list; I hope they (& Ben Goessling) are correct.

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

@1/2 St.:
I was at that game and have almost gotten over it. I'm actually going to defend Nook on this for the first and last time on anything. He was attempting to score from second on a 1-2-3 double play except Shoppach never threw the damn ball to first. Had it succeeded it would have been an incredible play to win the game.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | February 15, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

More bottom feeding? Sometimes it works (D'Meat in 2007) and sometimes it doesn't WMP or Nook. I guess the price is right. So what about Wang?

Posted by: twinbrook | February 15, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Successful season for the Nats =

1) 75+ wins
2) Development/Rehab so that Strasburg, Desmond, Storen, and Zimmermann are ready to contribute on opening day 2011
3) At least one of the following pitchers transforms from marginal major leaguer to solid contributor (Mock, Martis, Martin, Stammen, James, Thompson)- most likely Stammen
4) Dunn is extended through at least 2012
5) no injuries that linger into 2011

Posted by: hapster | February 15, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

@Scooter: My reference refers to Bobby Valentine, who destroyed his ankle in a similar play with the Dodgers back in the day, and was never the same.

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

CheapSeats, Charlie Slowes doesn't know what Nook Logan was doing, what he was thinking. You're trying to tell us you do? Not buying it.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 15, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Good list, BinM. That certainly informs our discussion regarding the composition of the bullpen.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 15, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse


I can't argue with your criteria for success, really. I hope at least two of the pitchers become solid major-leaguers this year from the marginal list, so we can either fill the rotation with a more solid set, or be in a position to finally make trades of consequence.

I put myself out there for Chuck James as one, but I would love to see Stammen or Martin or both (or all!) break through, as well.

Posted by: kevincostello | February 15, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

@JohninMpls: I was suprised that 7 of the 9 were RP's; I'd have actually expected a higher total, including a SP or two.

Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

My source for it is an interview with the Nookster himself the next day where he explained what he was trying to do. I didn't catch it either while at that game. Trust me, I was cursing him all the way home.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | February 15, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

it's not horrible because it's a minor league deal. but i have to ask these two questions:

1) what does he bring to the table that bernadina doesn't? they can't be worried about burning bernadina's options and he's not better offensively or defensively than bernadina. he has ML experience, but most of it isn't that good.

2) has someone figured out how to steal 1B? cuz if not, there's really no offensive skill he brings to the team. at all.

Posted by: sec231 | February 15, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

No comments in over 3 hours! Either most folks are off for the holiday and read NJ at work or this signing has absolutely no significance.

Or both.

Posted by: utec | February 15, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Oops - didn't refresh. This commenter is out to lunch and not even at work.

Posted by: utec | February 15, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I actually like this move, it is a minor league deal, with the exception of last year he has proven he can play in the big leagues and if he makes the club as the 4th or 5th OF, this gives Riggleman more options in CF if there is an injury and it gives him a PR with speed off the bench that we have not had since the move to DC!

Posted by: markfd | February 16, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

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