June 6, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez (21) hits a single against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at AT

Washington Nationals Spring Training Checklist: Freddy Sanchez

With Spring Training kicking off in less than 24 hours (more on that in a later post), the Nationals roster looks pretty set. They’ve more-than sured up the bullpen signing Rafael Soriano, they’ve brought back Adam LaRoche, and they’ve acquired a true leadoff man in center fielder Denard Span. All the major holes have been filled, but a championship team goes beyond the call of duty when preparing a roster. So as the Nationals prepare to head down to Space Coast, what still needs to be done?

June 5, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez (front) hits an RBI-single during the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at AT

It’s obvious that a team can never have enough starting pitching depth, and hopefully the Nationals will ultimately sign Javier Vazquez to a minor-league contract once he recovers from knee surgery, but another area that hasn’t received much attention is middle infield depth.

The Nationals did well in signing Will Rhymes this offseason, but why stop there? Let’s (and I pray to the heavens that this doesn’t happen) just say that Danny Espinosa’s injured shoulder causes him to miss some time this season. Sure, we can plug Steve Lombardozzi in and everything will be just fine, but then there needs to be a replacement for Lombo on the bench. Rhymes could potentially fill that role, but what if LaRoche or Zimmerman runs into injury trouble (as both have in the past) and Lombardozzi needs to move to third or Chad Tracy is forced to become an everyday first baseman? Point being, a big piece of this team is playing injured, and the Nationals don’t have a great track record in their infield when in comes to staying healthy.

So, why not bring in a guy like Freddy Sanchez? This is a second baseman who, when he’s not injured, can be an absolute force at the plate. He won the stinkin’ National League Batting Title in 2006, and if that doesn’t scream “GREAT DEPTH SIGNING,” I don’t know what will. Injuries are the only thing standing in his way from being an above-average major league second baseman, as he holds a .297 career batting average across nine seasons. He’s not washed up, as he’s hit .289 or better in all but one season since 2005, and he’s also averaged over 20 doubles a season for his career. He’s not Robinson Cano, but considering it would likely take an incentive-laden minor league contract to sign him, why not? If nothing else, he’d give Rhymes some healthy competition in camp, and if he plays well at AAA, he could serve as trade bait in the event that a bullpen arm goes down.

What do you think? Should the Nationals go after Sanchez? Is there someone else you’d like Mike Rizzo to go after instead? Comment below!

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