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UPDATED: Nats sign Schierholtz to minor-league deal

Aug 18, 2014, 6:25 PM EST

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Updated at 6:25 p.m.

The Nationals signed Nate Schierholtz to a minor-league contract, and though the veteran outfielder will report to Class AAA Syracuse, there’s a good chance he’ll find his way to Washington in short order to bolster the club’s struggling bench for the stretch run.

Schierholtz, who was designated for assignment by the Cubs two weeks ago, will join the Chiefs’ roster on Tuesday and get some minor-league at-bats before the Nationals decide how close he is to big-league-ready.

“We’re going to see where he’s at when he gets there tomorrow, physically,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We know when was the last time he played. We’re going to gauge how he feels and how he looks, and we’ll get him as many at-bats as he needs until we bring him up.”

Schierholtz hit just .192 with six homers, 33 RBI and a .541 OPS in 99 games for the Cubs, going 3 for his last 41. The 30-year-old, though, is only one season removed from hitting .251 with 21 homers and a .770 OPS for Chicago, production that made him a trade target for the Nats in July and August 2013.

“We tried to get him a couple of times via the trade route, and it just didn’t work out,” Rizzo said. “But he was available, and with Nate McLouth on the shelf for longer than we expected, we thought it was a good pickup.”

Schierholtz’s acquisition was a direct reflection of McLouth’s recent right shoulder injury, which it appears will keep him sidelined longer than originally expected. McLouth was due to undergo an enhanced MRI on Monday, with club officials concerned there could be a tear in the shoulder.

“He’s not improving as much as he’d like to, I know that,” manager Matt Williams said. “That’s why we’re doing this secondary test, to make sure everybody understands exactly what’s going on.”

Schierholtz has enjoyed considerable success as a pinch-hitter in his career; he sports a .289 batting average and .763 OPS in 182 plate appearances over eight seasons with the Giants and Cubs. Though he was only 2-for-19 as a pinch-hitter this season, Schierholtz was seen as an upgrade for a Nationals club that has struggled to get consistent production from its bench this year.

“It was by design that we went after him,” Rizzo said. “It’s a left-handed bat that has experience as a pinch-hitter. He’s had great success as a pinch-hitter. He can play all three outfield positions above average. He throws well. He still runs well. He’s got some pop from the left side of the bench. And as you’ve seen by our bench, we’re a little short on left-handed power bats off the bench.”

In other news, Syracuse right-handers Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett both were placed on the 7-day DL on Monday, though neither pitcher’s injury is considered serious. According to a Nationals spokesman, Treinen slept on his pitching arm funny and will return after missing only one start, while Barrett is dealing with minor back spasms.

Both Treinen and Barrett have been significant contributors for the Nationals this season and are expected to be among the club’s September call-ups.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 18, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Whose place would he take on the 40 man when he’s called up?

    • alexva6 - Aug 18, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      my guess, if he was signed to replace McLouth then he goes on 60 day DL

    • TimDz - Aug 18, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      They may put McLouth or Souza on the 60 day DL…..
      If not, the only ones I see that would possibly pass through waivers are Mattheus or Cedeno….

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 18, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        Hasn’t everybody been put through waivers by now? We might not know the outcome, whether they were claimed or not, but Rizzo would know.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 18, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        Its a hard call. I wonder if it will be Eury Perez to the DFA or McLouth to the 60 day. I don’t think it will be Souza to the 60 day as I think they want him back on Sept 1.

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 18, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      There’s also the possibility he won’t get called up, he’s just there for insurance during the playoffs. Less likely, but it’s there.

  2. masterfishkeeper - Aug 18, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Good question.

    His career and 2014 stats are eerily similar to the other Nate’s. I assume this means the Nats are worried that McLouth is done for the year, and they’ll need a lefthanded bat off the bench. If McLouth is done for the year, he could go on the 60 day. Or maybe Solis goes on the 60 day. He hasn’t pitched in months, right?

    If not those two, I’d assume Perez and Kobernus are the likeliest to be DFA’d.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 18, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    So is Scott Hairston finally gone.. or did the sac fly save his job…

  4. NatsLady - Aug 18, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    He’s a lefty. So that would be McLouth.

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 18, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      They Hairston replacement is Tyler Moore.

      Good story by Svrluga the other day on T-Mo.

      • natsfan1a - Aug 18, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        Yes, that whole series has been a good read, imho. For those who haven’t followed it, if you click on “The Grind” in the top right-hand corner of the page to which Sofa linked, you’ll see a listing of all the stories in the series.

      • jd - Aug 18, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        Nice story. Tyler needs to find a team which will let him play every day. He’ll be productive.

  5. jd - Aug 18, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Scott Hairston has gotten 2 hits/sac flies which led directly to Nats wins. If a bench player can contribute directly to 4 -5 wins a year he has done his job. There is a massive misunderstanding of what constitutes a solid bench player (which is different than a 4th outfielder or a 5th infielder who have defensive responsibilities and are expected to step in to a regular role during injury On the Nats these roles were intended for Mc.Louth and Frandsen.).

    Scott Hairston isn’t a very good player but if he would be he wouldn’t be a bench player. When I ask people to give me examples of solid bench players I hear names like Cody Ross who incidentally was given a massive contract to be an every day player and has failed miserably.

    • adcwonk - Aug 18, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      Scott Hairston has gotten 2 hits/sac flies which led directly to Nats wins.

      Two out of how many attempts? I ask because his last five consecutive appearances were PH-strikeouts. When a guy can’t even hit a weak ground ball in 5 straight attempts . . . .

      Since June 17, he’s been in 29 games, mostly as a PH. He’s had 36 plate appearances — three hits, one RBI (yesterday’s sac fly) and 13 K’s. A slashline of .094/.167/.125

  6. jd - Aug 18, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Schierholtz is a terrific pickup and if the Nats would know for sure that Werth is ready to play every day I,m sure they would send Taylor down and improve their left handed bench significantly. Again don’t expect Trout numbers from Schierholtz but he comes with good power potential from the left side.

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      JD, if I remember correctly, you were big on Schierholtz last season, maybe before that 2-HR game he had in the 11-1 drubbing the Nats took at Wrigley last summer.

      • jd - Aug 18, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        Soul,

        You are right. I think Schirholtz is a proto typical bench bat. I think the Cubs used him as more than that and he’s not good enough to play regularly or even semi regularly but used properly he’l get you 3 – 5 big game changing pinch hits a year. Dobbs is really a similar guy but no team has room for too many of these type of players.

  7. langleyclub - Aug 18, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Schierholtz was an everyday player for the Cubs through the AS Break, and he was horrible (.204/.250/.314 BA/OBP/SLG). He was even worse as a bench player after the AS Break until his release on August 5 (.091/.162/.182). So, this looks more like the ill-fated Greg Dobbs acquisition, than anything else.

    Schierholtz will have 10 days at Cuse to show the Nats front office that he has his stroke back, but I think its more likely that he never has a meaningful at bat in DC.

  8. jd - Aug 18, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    langley,

    Scheirholtz was a 1.5 WAR player for the Cubs last year with 21 home runs and if you take away his crappy defense he’s really not bad off the bench. I don’t understand what you guys are looking for on the bench. Mike Trout?

    • adcwonk - Aug 18, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Just out of curiosity:

      How does a player sink from the 1.5 WAR last year, to sub-Mendoza this year when he’s only age 30?

      Thoughts, anyone?

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 18, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Werth back in tonight’s starting lineup. I was hoping they’d give him another day or 2.

  10. Section 222 - Aug 18, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Happy to see Werth back. I really hate the D-Backs — the most recent intentionally beaning of McCutcheon, which put him on the DL, just confirms that they play dirty (remember the series a few years ago when they went after Morse?). I want to sweep that crappy team.

    • knoxvillenat - Aug 18, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      I don’t remember any incidents with Morse involved but I do recall back in 2011 the D-Backs hitting Werth a good bit in a series in Phoenix and Justin Upton being hit a few times by Nats pitchers that same series.

  11. Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 18, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    “Schierholtz was designated for assignment by the Cubs two weeks ago”

    I assume he was released after that, and the Nats didn’t have to trade or pay for him?

    • masterfishkeeper - Aug 19, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      Yes. He is free, except for whatever salary he has negotiated with the Nats.

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