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Nats sign reliever Hensley to minor-league deal

Jan 21, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT

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The Nationals have signed right-hander Clay Hensley to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, adding a veteran reliever to the competition for the one or two jobs that will be up for grabs in Viera.

Hensley, 34, is a veteran of seven major-league seasons and sports a 4.00 ERA in 271 career appearances (41 starts) with the Padres, Marlins and Giants. He posted a 2.16 ERA as recently as 2010, when he pitched in 68 games and notched seven saves for Florida.

Hensley, perhaps best known for giving up Barry Bonds’ record-tying 755th home run in 2007, did not pitch in the majors last year. He opened 2013 with the Reds’ Class AAA affiliate in Louisville but was released after posting a 4.00 ERA in 15 games. He then appeared in four games for the Brewers at Class AAA Nashville before again getting released.

Hensley re-established himself pitching for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, where he allowed only one run and four hits in 14 1/3 innings.

  1. David Proctor - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Who needs Balfour when you can have Clay Hensley?!

  2. Hiram Hover - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Strength? Strengthened!

  3. veejh - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  4. scnatsfan - Jan 21, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Remember the days when guys like this were signed to be our #2 or 3 starter. Enjoy where we are and enjoy the season!

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jan 21, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      +1

  5. sjm308 - Jan 21, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    With the guys we have that won’t make our bullpen out of spring training, this makes little sense but you never know.

    I see our AAA pen as Garcia, Karns, Matheus, Davis and Solis just for starters. That’s pretty damn good!

  6. Doc - Jan 21, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    14 innnings with the Sugar Land Skeeters—WOW, it doesn’t take much to re-establish yourself these days!! LOL

  7. JayB - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:51 AM

    Someone help me out here…..When has these types of Rizzo and before him Jimbo worked?

    I know some of you will say what is the harm, every team does these types of dumpster dives…..but what I have come to learn (I think at least) is that hey do come back to hurt the team. Many examples exist of these guys have a good enough spring training to make the team and then crashing in April/May and really costing team wins.

    Rizzo has a track record of bad bull pen decisions and having to remake the pull pen in mid year. Look no further than last year but going back many years we see the trend. It is not just the bull pen….I fear the bench is going to have the same issue this year. Rizzo has Danny for some unknown reason and then a ton of has beens….the OF has Harriston and he did nothing last year…

    .Why is it we can not just get a team full of MLB players who are in prime. Nate McCloth is a good example of how we should fill the last roster spots. With talent not hopes and dreams of talent reclaimed.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 22, 2014 at 7:33 AM

      Clay has less than 1% chance of making it to the bullpen. We already have 5 RHPs (Clip, Sori, Drew, Stam, Ryan), 1 LHP (Blevins), and one of RD/Roark going to the bullpen.

      • zmunchkin - Jan 22, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        I am willing to bet that these moves are more motivated by helping Syracuse get healthy again financially. I think they were the only minor league Nationals affiliate to not make it to their post-season. And they lost money last year (per an article a while back about the Nats extending their deal with Syracuse).

        The Nats need a healthy AAA team and so it make sense for them to sign guys who end up there.

    • sjm308 - Jan 22, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      JayB – I agree with you and I will go further. I don’t see how this even helps our AAA team. If you look at our relievers, we have a bunch of young guys who I think are right on the edge of helping our club. Just to name a couple, Christian Garcia, Davis, Solis, Mattheus come to mind and I have not really followed our minor league guys but I bet there are a few more who are looking to move to the next level. I just don’t understand how this helps unless you need these kind of arms to get through spring training.

      Let me know why I am wrong here.

      Go Nats!

  8. jd - Jan 22, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    sjm308 and JayB,

    This is strictly organizational depth. You name all the arms for AAA but you don’t take into account the possibility and even probability that someone or a couple of someones will get injured.

    JayB,

    Let’s examine what we have for the bench:

    1) Danny Espinosa – 2 years ago he had a better year than every 2nd baseman in the NL except Phillips and Hill, decent chance to be a good bench player, no?

    2) McLouth – You already approved him so let’s move on.

    3) Hairston – In 2012 hit 20 home runs and 25 doubles – not bad for a bench player. no?

    4) Tyler Moore – His 2012 numbers were .263 .327 .513 with 10 home runs in 171 at bats.

    And the off season is not done yet. You have to accept the fact that you can’t get sure things for the bench or they wouldn’t want to be on the bench. Some times you have to luck out like the Braves did last year when players who were rejects on other teams such as Jordan Schaffer work out better than expected.

  9. JayB - Jan 22, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    I will never accept Danny E as anything on a MLB team…..not on one that wants to win or like nats should win and must win this year. He is selfish, pig headed and uncoachable. He did more to hurt this team in 2012 and 2013 than any other player. He does not even get an invite to MLB camp if I an GM.

    Tyler Moore sample size on success is very small…..failure…not too small.

    Hairston….NO ARM…NO LEGS anymore….he looks like he is 45 already….waste of roster spot and like Chadd before him just another example of RIZZO pigheadedness….Can not admit he was wrong until it is way way too late.

  10. jd - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    I will never accept Danny E as anything on a MLB team…..not on one that wants to win or like nats should win and must win this year. He is selfish, pig headed and uncoachable. He did more to hurt this team in 2012 and 2013 than any other player. He does not even get an invite to MLB camp if I an GM. – Thank god you are not the GM.

    Tyler Moore sample size on success is very small…..failure…not too small.- I disagree

    Hairston….NO ARM…NO LEGS anymore….he looks like he is 45 already….waste of roster spot and like Chadd before him just another example of RIZZO pigheadedness….Can not admit he was wrong until it is way way too late.- And yet he hit 20 HR’s in a part time role just 1 year ago.

    JayB,

    I don’t think Mike Trout is ready to join the Nats bench.

    You can never be convinced, you don’t care about the numbers , you just stubbornly hold on to your subjective opinion.

    • JayB - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      JD

      Do you really like Hairston they way he played last year. He dropped off a great deal and his arm is the weakest I have seen in baseball since Juan P.

      Do you really think Danny E can hit anymore….how much data do you need to make that call?

      Moore….yes I like him but not in LF or 1B…He is a DH at best.

  11. Section 222 - Jan 22, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    jd, I just wish that any of the numbers you used to support your argument that our bench is ok came from 2013 instead of 2012 or earlier. I thought Hairston was a good signing when it happened, but he didn’t do anything for us last year. What makes you think he’ll be better this year? Ty-Mo looked like a strong bench player after 2012. Now we’re just hoping he’s not completely incompetent. And Espi? Don’t get me started. Sure, he might get better having not had the surgery he needs and having been unable to hit minor league pitching after his demotion, but to keep pointing to his previous seasons as reason to expect something better this year? That strikes me as wishful thinking, not analysis.

    Until Espi shows he can hit in Syracuse, I’ll take the shadow of Jamey Carroll as our 25th man. We do not need a K-machine as a pinch hitter in the late innings.

  12. jd - Jan 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Deuces,

    There is inherent risk involved when constructing your bench because as I said if they were sure things they wouldn’t be bench candidates.

    1) Hairston – the arguments about his arm etc is not that relevant,Frankly you want a player who has the potential to change a game with one swing of the bat, he will fail on many occasions but will, potentially get some big hits.I thought that Davey mismanaged Hairston last year, he should never hit against righties and he should get enough at bats to stay sharp. Atlanta was very good at using their bench correctly.

    2) Espinosa – There is no argument that Espi was below awful last year. I really take issue when people characterize his 2012 season as a failure when objective stats put him as the 3rd best 2nd baseman in the entire league. It’s hard to imagine that a player Danny’s age is washed up, it’s more likely that due to injuries and other issues he fell into a horrible tail spin and I agree that his own stubbornness hurt his ability to climb out of it. I wouldn’t assume that he’s washed up though.

    3) Moore -No one knows yet although I am very encouraged by how he finished last year both at Syracuse and after he was called up.

  13. Section 222 - Jan 22, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    jd, those are reasonable points on Hairston and Moore. Basically you’re willing to accept subpar numbers from Hairston for a few gamewinning pinch hit home runs. Of course, that’s what we got from Chad Tracy last year, but I guess if Hairston at least hits over the Mendoza line he’ll be an improvement. On the other hand, if he needs regular at bats to stay fresh, then you have to be concerned about his arm, don’t you?

    It’s a little odd to say “no one knows yet” about a third year player who’s going to be in his age 27 season . I’m afraid I’m not impressed by anyone’s Syracuse numbers anymore. Corey Brown had some great seasons there too, and look where he is. But I hadn’t focused on Moore’s numbers after he was called back up in August — .344/.375/.459 in 21 games. That’s reason for hope I grant you.

    I agree that injuries hurt Espi. The problem is that he both covered them up (shoulder in late 2012, and wrist in 2013), hurting the team, and still declines to have the surgery that might fix his shoulder. It’s one thing in the winter of 2012 to say he’d rather work hard in the offseason to strengthen it and see what happens. But to do the same thing in the winter of 2013 suggests that stubborness, which we see in other facets of his game, is a fatal flaw to his prospects for a good career.

  14. jd - Jan 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Deuces,

    If Hairston has a Tracy type year it would be a failure, I think he’s a better hitter than that if he’s put in the right situations. I recognize that he has to play some defense but then again so this Mike Morse and Tyler Moore. You can have an occasional defensive liability in left field. Not the end of the world.

    Here is how I look at Moore. He had a very good rookie year in part time duty. The league adjusted to him and he had a pretty bad sophomore year until he was sent down when he seemed to find his game and also maintained a good level of hitting upon his return. Keep in mind we are talking about a player coming off the bench hitter not someone in the middle of our every day lineup.

    I agree with most of your points on Espi although I hate to comment on medical issues because I am not conversant on them. My only point is that before you discard someone with Espi’s talent at a relatively young age you better be sure he’s lost it because you sure don’t want to see him blossom into his potential on someone else’s team.

  15. Section 222 - Jan 22, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I think we’re probably closer than it appears on Espi. I’m not ready to discard him. I just don’t want to anoint him our utility infielder until he shows he can hit. And that doesn’t mean having a few good games in spring training against pitchers who are experimenting and working on things. It means spending at least a month in Syracuse, hitting over .260, and not striking out at the rate he has over the past few seasons. At Syracuse. If he can’t do that, he can’t be a good late inning option in the majors.

  16. sjm308 - Jan 22, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    Excellent back & forth on our bench and to me, the key point was made early on. None of these guys are Mike Trout, they are on the bench for a reason., either flaws in their game or we have someone stronger as a starter. Of the 3 being discussed, I am most skeptical of Moore for the simple reason that he can’t play in the outfield. Deuces, I really hope Espinosa shows improvement, but you are correct that he hit well last spring and then the wheels fell off.

    It’s like Rizzo can’t do anything but hope it all works out. I guess we wil be there hoping as well.

  17. JayB - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    It’s like Rizzo can’t do anything but hope it all works out.

    This is exactly what kills Rizzo and the Nats….sitting on his brains and pride cost us huge last year. It can not happen again or Rizzo should be fired.

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