The Washington Nationals have signed Rick Ankiel to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with incentives. Ankiel began last season with Kansas City Royals before being shipped to the Atlanta Braves, where he hit a memorable home run in Game 2 of the NLDS against the eventual champion San Francisco Giants.
In 74 games last season, Ankiel had a .232 batting average with 6 home runs and 24 RBI. Those aren’t the most impressive numbers but keep in mind that he was injured for a majority of 2010 with strained right quadriceps.
Ankiel will be a hit or miss, but he is a risk worth taking. He would likely be a platoon outfielder but if a situation called for Ankiel to be the everyday guy I wouldn’t feel too uncomfortable. Given the right scenario I think Ankiel could thrive.
Sure the Nationals, and every team for that matter, want to be competitive every year, but could 2011 be another trial run for Roger Bernadina, Nyjer Morgan, and now Ankiel? When the team begins its serious run for a pennant in 2012 with the return of Stephen Strasburg and possibly Bryce Harper, which outfielders will be around for the ride?
If Harper isn’t catching it will be him and Jayson Werth in the outfield with one spot remaining.
Ankiel has plenty of experience performing when everyone had written him off, so don’t be surprised if he has a productive season after a down year. He will be a interesting story to follow no matter what happens.