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Nats sign Frandsen for final bench spot

Mar 26, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

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Updated at 1:15 p.m.

JUPITER, Fla. — Turns out the final spot on the Nationals’ bench will go to a player who hadn’t been in their organization the entire spring.

The Nationals have signed veteran infielder Kevin Frandsen, cut loose yesterday by the Phillies, and will give the 31-year-old a spot on their Opening Day roster, the club officially announced this afternoon.

Frandsen, who gets a guaranteed $900,000 salary, reported to Space Coast Stadium in Viera this morning, according to a source familiar with the deal, joining players who didn’t make the trip to Jupiter for today’s exhibition game against the Cardinals. He will make his debut Thursday in the Nationals’ Grapefruit League finale against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.

To clear space for Frandsen on their 40-man roster, the Nationals voided last week’s option of Ross Ohlendorf and placed the right-hander on the 60-day disabled list with a right lumbar strain.

Before the signing was formally announced, manager Matt Williams spoke generically about the type of player he would want to add to his bench if possible.

“If, in fact, we were to look for somebody else, it would be somebody else that would give us multiple options, that has the ability to play multiple positions,” Williams said. “That’s important. It’s important for your team to have guys that can move around and that are experienced in that regard and have done it.”

Frandsen thus becomes the final man on the Nationals’ bench, taking the spot most assumed would go to either Jamey Carroll or Tyler Moore. Both Carroll and Moore, though, were cut yesterday afternoon, with Williams saying the club was instead considering either utilityman Jeff Kobernus or third catcher Sandy Leon for the Opening Day roster.

Asked at the time if there was any chance the club would acquire someone from outside the organization to fill that position, Williams said only: “I don’t have any information on that.”

Frandsen, though, was already on the Nationals’ radar at that point, having been outrighted off the Phillies’ 40-man roster over the weekend and electing yesterday not to report to Class AAA Lehigh Valley and instead become a free agent.

The veteran infielder hit .234 with five homers and 26 RBI in 252 at-bats with Philadelphia last season. A right-handed hitter who can play third base, second base and first base, he is a career .265 pinch-hitter, a role he’ll likely be asked to hold with the Nationals. He led the majors with 14 pinch-hits last year.

  1. thelatencn - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Philly bloggers seriously dissing Frandsen’s defense, praising his hustle, character, disagreeing about his bat.

    • David Proctor - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      His defense grades out as about average, according to Fangraphs.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    oh, he can play first. I guess that’s another option to backup ALR besides Ryan.

    • sjm308 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      last season he played more games at first than the other positions, total of 40 games I believe

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        you are right! Just checked his innings tally, about double the innings at other positions.

  3. Jacob Rasch - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Frandsen’s platoon splits make him an effective weapon against left-handers (unlike Carroll), and he has a good deal of positional flexibility (unlike Moore). The move makes sense, as it leaves the Nationals with a very balanced bench. My full take here, if you care to read it:

    http://seriousjammage.com/2014/03/26/nationals-sign-kevin-frandsen/

  4. Hiram Hover - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    All that stuff about Leon and Kobernus sure sounded like B.S.. Know we know why–it was.

  5. sjm308 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    I am still waiting to see who is leaving the 40 man roster and I think Steady Eddie might be wrong from the last post. I, of course could be just as wrong. As soon as we cut that player, I believe he is then available for any other team to sign him. Please correct me if this is wrong. Now, if no one else signs him, then I believe he can go to our minor league team.

    • David Proctor - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      You are correct, SJM. Once a player is on the 40 man, you cannot take him off without exposing him to waivers where any team can claim him.

      • Steady Eddie - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        You’re right. Remind myself not to post in future while sitting in the dentist’s chair taking Xylocaine and nitrous (seriously)!

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      sjm, anyone they designate for assignment is off the 40-man at that point; they still have 10 days to do something with him.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Baseball_transactions#Designated_for_assignment

      “A player who is designated for assignment (DFA) is immediately removed from the 40-man roster. This gives the team time to decide what to do with the player while freeing up a roster spot for another transaction, if needed. Once a player is designated for assignment, the team has ten days to do one of the following things: the player can be traded, the player can be released, or the player can be put on waivers and, provided he clears, outrighted to the minors. A player who is outrighted to the minors is removed from the 40-man roster but is still paid according to the terms of his guaranteed contract. A player can only be outrighted once in his career without his consent.”

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        So if they DFA somebody, and don’t trade him OR release him outright, then he has to pass through waivers to be sent down. If he’s claimed, they have to either work out a trade with the claiming team, or just let the claiming team assume his contract, as-is. If they release him outright, they are still on the hook for his contract; if another team signs him, they assume his contract BUT they only pay him the MLB minimum, and the team that released him pays the rest.

  6. Section 222 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Wow. Well, so much for the outside the box thinking of carrying three catchers. Nice while it lasted. So is it fair to say that Frandsen is Jamie Carroll with a bit more pop and can play 1B?

    I do like the idea of Zim not being the only option at 1B when ALR needs a rest. I guess how much he’s used there will depend on whether Espi or Frandsen is hitting better.

  7. David Proctor - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 54s
    Both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan will pitch Saturday in the Nats-Tigers exhibition. Decision to come after. Roark likely to start.

    Interesting. What can they show in that game that they haven’t already?

    • masterfishkeeper - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:14 AM

      David,

      Probably nothing, but it makes sense to give them both another opportunity. No harm, right?

      • David Proctor - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        I suppose, but both would probably rather know one way or the other than take it two days before Opening Day. But maybe not.

      • sjm308 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        I can’t imagine that if one throws 3 innings of perfect ball and the other gives up 6 runs that it will make a difference. Surely the decision is already made and they are honestly waiting to see how Fister does before making this tough decision. If Fister is not ready they keep both up but I have to think the decision on who is staying and who is going has already been made. If not, I totally disagree with this game being the basis. Rizzo is too smart for that and has to have this figured out already.

    • DaveB - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      As much as anything, I think they don’t want to option either until they are as confident as possible on Fister. I assume they are pretty sure which way they are going at this point, but are waiting to announce until they have to. I would really think it is (and should be) Roark, based on his results last year, pitching well enough this ST that you need to see if he can keep it up, and the fact that TJ seems like a little extra time at AAA could help. A close call tho, and the thing that gives me pause was that (accidental?) posting of TJ as the probable starter on the website.

      • sjm308 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        damn, even though I added other thoughts I indeed owe DaveB a virtual drink since he beat me by one minute on the Fister decision.

        someone please post that link again because I am totally inept finding it myself

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        http://prettyfrickenbueno.wordpress.com/

        will bookmark it once you’re there, by the way. just saying.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        whoops, did I forget this part?

        will bookmark it.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        wrong again, chaise-breath!

         
      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM

        awwww, c’mon! they changed what they’re allowing!

        CONTROL – D

      • RPrecupjr - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        Season must be close, Sofa is arguing with himself ;)

    • NatsNut - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      I think it’s because in addition to seeing if Fister’s elbow holds up tomorrow, they need to see how he feels the day after (Friday after he wakes up). That’s probably cutting it too close to cut either of the other guys before leaving for DC. Keeping the both for the exhibition gives them til Sunday to see how Fister is doing.

    • Jb - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      As one of the coaches said last week, when it gets this late in ST players often don’t have to be cut because they cut themselves. Saturday is the last chance for either Jordan or Roark to cut himself. If neither one does, a decision needs to be made. Putting it off until the last minute hedges their bets against Fister having a setback that would require them to keep both Roark and Jordan.

  8. jd - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    David,

    I could be wrong but my gut feeling is that it’s Roark’s job to lose with Jordan being the 1st call up candidate. Of course if Fister can’t answer the bell they both make the team and their fates will be decided by their performance in the regular season.

  9. alexva6 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Good pickup. Veterans off the bench is always my preference.

  10. laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Welcome aboard, Kevin Frandsen. Now the Philly fans have 2 Nats they can boo. You and Werth can both shake your rings at them, next year.

    This guy is a very good career pinch hitter, especially against lefties, which has been a Nat’s weakness for several years. The Nats have improved their pinch hitting from the left side with McClouth, and from the right side with Frandsen, while shoring up their OF defense with McClouth, and their infield defense with Espinosa, Frandsen and Lobaton.

    The only bench hold-over is now Hairston. The Nats have experienced and capable backups everywhere, now, with the major remaining weaknesses being Hairston’s defense in LF, and Danny’s bat at 2nd base.

    Rizzo has plugged every hole on the Nats bench with better players, except for the lone hold-over. He has filled out the Nats rotation with Fister and whomever Matt chooses between Roark and TJ. He has added Blevins, Detwiler and Barrett to the pen. The Nats are better, deeper, and, more than yesterday, more than ever, the team to beat in the NL East. Every one of the new guys is a Rizzo “character and makeup” guy, too. That includes the new manager.

    Not bad.

  11. Section 222 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Pitching both Jordan and Roark on March 29 also lines them both up to start on April 4 if needed. That’s probably the main reason rather than it being a final audition. And if they end up DL’ing Fister, the other can start on the 5th or 6th.

    What a fascinating battle this has become. So fun to watch!

    • Eric - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Agreed! As was the battle for the bench.

  12. nats106 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    While I’ll miss Jamey, I’m OK with this as long as Frandsen brings this kind of attitude when Nats play the Braves. Also, note that the Braves apparently teach their pitchers their standard BS in the minors. Another reason to hate them.

    • Eric - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      I was bummed about Carroll, but I like this a lot better, mostly due to extra 1B depth.

    • flnatsfan - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Ha! Thanks for the video. Of course it’s the Braves…

      • Eric - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        Seriously amazing.

    • Sonny G 10 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Cool! Thanks for the video.

    • chaz11963 - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      Great video!

  13. deftndumb - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I am in general agreement with Theophilus (from the previous thread) that these sorts of moves for other teams’ “garbage” have been blocking our own home-grown, controllable talent. And it annoys me too.

    However, we must understand that in some ways Rizzo and the team have become the victims of their unexpectedly early success. When “the window opened” in 2012, a year (or two) earlier than expected, it came with a “win now!” imperative that has driven the roster toward established veterans and away from internal options.

    If the Nats had won 88 games in 2012 would they have made the desperation-signing of Hairston in ’13, when the bench crapped-out? Would they have re-signed LaRoche for two years? If they had only won 88 games in 2012 and missed the playoffs, Storen’s Game 5 meltdown would never have happened, forcing Rizzo to sign Soriano. Would Zuk have been signed? How about the trade for Span? (Would Billy Burns be in center now? Would Souza and Kobernus have spots on the 25-man?)

    Obviously, I don’t know. Some of these moves may have been made anyway, but my point is that the logic of the “open window” may be a curse as well as a blessing, and may have the unintended consequence of retarding the advancement of some of the best and the brightest in the Nats system.

    For the record, I don’t hate the Frandsen signing — he seems to meet the specs — but in principle I’d like to see more advancement from within.

    • sjm308 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Rendon – drafted
      Espinosa – drafted
      Desmond – drafted
      Zimmerman – drafted
      Harper – drafted
      Ramos – just 24 & acquired in trade but still advanced here
      and I have not even mentioned all the pitching

      Where do you want advancement? Tyler Moore – still advancing in AAA & getting meaningful innings
      Kobernus – still getting meaningful innings in AAA
      Walters – same
      and we have THREE centerfielders that will either play for the big team or bring prospects in trades in the near future.
      A team should be a combination of homegrown talent which I think I have presented above and a second group of veterans acquired in trade of free agency. I think Rizzo has done it the right way and don’t know who you would want sitting on the bench as our 24th or 25th player rather then getting playing time in AAA

      • Sonny G 10 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        +1

      • deftndumb - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        SJM, as always your points are well taken, and thorough. And you are a tough crowd.

        I hope I have not presented myself as someone who knows more or could do better than Rizzo. I am certainly not. And he has done an excellent job, in my opinion. And no, I have no crystal ball as to where the final roster spots should fall.

        My point was simply that the unexpected successes of 2012, much as I loved them, may have forced Rizzo’s hands in certain respects. For example, you are right that, say, TyMo is better served getting at bats every day in AAA…now: he’d have had them in 2013, in the bigs, if LaRoche had not been signed to a “win now” contract. Could Moore have been worse as an everyday first baseman than the 2013 LaRoche? (So, was LaRoche re-signed because of the “Open window?”)

        Of course, I don’t know. But I do surmise that some of these important decisions (perhaps Hairston, Soriano, LaRoche, Tracy, Dejesus?) must have been driven by some sort of “open window” logic, which may persist. It’s not a knock on Rizzo. And although I don’t know whether it’s for better or worse, I believe an average 2012 team would have given us a different 2014 bench and bullpen, and perhaps even some interesting tweaks among position players. It’s all speculative, of course, but it’s the underlying structural issues that fascinate me.

      • chaz11963 - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:24 PM

        +2

    • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      “…these sorts of moves for other teams’ “garbage” have been blocking our own home-grown, controllable talent.”

      Garbage?

      The Nats had a season-long problem last year with a bench that did not hit. All Rizzo did was just sign the most productive pinch-hitter in the entire MLs last year, and he’s “garbage.”

      That’s worth repeating.

      The Nats had a season-long problem last year with a bench that did not hit. All Rizzo did was just sign the most productive pinch-hitter in the entire MLs last year, and he’s “garbage.”

      What would you have preferred? That he sign the 2nd most productive PHer from last year? The “home-grown” guys on the bench last year just did not cut it. Frandsen was a great pickup.

      • letswin3 - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        Yep, great pickup. And it also gives me reason to feel better to know that that third catcher concept that I disliked will be dumped.

      • deftndumb - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:13 PM

        I’m not picking a fight over the makeup of the team: I’m saying the makeup of the team has been influenced by success ahead of schedule. And some have been casualties. Sorry if I’m a jerk for suggesting it.

  14. wearenationals - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Are Kobernus and Leon still in major league camp? Is it a crazy idea that MW may still choose Kobernus over Hairston? I still don’t see much what Hairston can offer. I think Kobernus provides the same skill set and then some, yes?

    • deftndumb - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      From your mouth to God’s ear! (Or Rizzo’s)

    • David Proctor - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Hairston is our only power on the bench. Kobernus has none

      • deftndumb - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        Ok, ok: but if he craps out I want him pulled fast. There are options in the system.

  15. Section 222 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    I like the idea of proven major leaguers on the bench. But the real key is the willingness of Rizzo to get rid of them if they aren’t producing. In 2011 we had Stairs, in 2012, we had Xavier Nady, last year we had Tracy. Stairs and Tracy both hung around way too long. In 2012, they got rid of Nady and essentially replaced him with TyMo. I’m not saying that’s why we did so well, but our bench was great that year. And horrible in 2013. So I’m fine with Frandsen being the 25th man on Opening Day. But if he’s hitting below the Mendoza line at the end of May, someone else should get a shot.

    • deftndumb - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Agreed, Deuces

    • sjm308 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      + 2

      • nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        I forgot about Nady! Its every f****** season with these washed up veterans. Hairston better come through for Rizzo.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        +4

  16. 3on2out - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    It was one thing to sign Jason Werth…a starting outfielder. But someone the Filthies released? Gag.

  17. Danny - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Uh oh, SI predicted us to win the WS again over the As…

    • Eric - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      Ugh!

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        yeah seriously, stay away national writers. Please!

  18. thelatencn - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    I don’t disagree with leting Carroll go, but it does create the potential for a poignant moment, because Jamey lives just about a mile from Space Coast Stadium, so unlike the other cuts, perhaps he didn’t tell his family with a phone call, but just walked in the door with the news.

  19. micksback1 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    I have no problem with this move, I had doubts Carroll would make it. i guess T moore is a bust. opening day just around the corner. I agree with sec22, frandson is Carrol with more pop and 8 years younger

    • Eric - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      And, apparently adequate 1B experience/ability

    • Sonny G 10 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      I don’t think TyMo is a bust. He needs regular at-bats and we just have no place for him on the major league roster at present (unless you are considering he’s a bust as a pinch-hitter, which he is kinda young for)

  20. nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Hairston with a hit!

  21. nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    That was one ugly at-bat by Espinosa. 3 swing and miss with 1 out and bases loaded. That swing looked different and not as compact.

  22. nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Some guy named Caleb Ramsey comes up after Espinosa and ropes a 2 RBI single to right. smh

  23. cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    In Hairston and Frandsen you’ve got two right-handed pinch hitters. Both have pop but especially Hairston. Frandsen is the kind of player you use late in games … to make something happen; consider him a replacement for Lombo in some respects.

    In McLouth and Espinosa you’ve got two left-handed bats (and Espy has the advantage of giving a manager a third right-handed bat with power off the bench. McLouth can lay down bunts for hits and sacrifices and is also a hard nosed gritty player like Frandsen and Lombo. He also features power. Espinosa features speed and power but we’re not sure how far along his bunting has come. You would use McLouth late in games and Espinosa earlier.

    Except for Espinosa the entire bench now knows their role and are used to working under those conditions. They’ve also been around and know that if they don’t produce they could end up on the street on the waiver wire. mcLouth and Frandsen are known for their gritty, dirt bag play, anything to win a game.

    I think this bench strikes a good balance of speed, power and one premier elite level glove.

    This year the prospects will stay in the minors to play everyday. There’s no Davey to grab them up to see what they can do … unfortunately from my perspective … but I could be wrong about Matt Williams and he surely must still be finding his way.

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