In explaining to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan what it was the Washington Nationals were looking for in a free agent catcher this winter, DC GM Mike Rizzo told Mr. Harlan, in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Nats sign free agent Ivan Rodriguez", that though the team expects Jesus Flores to be, "...ready to go in the Spring," they'd learned their lesson last season and wanted to have a legitimate backup, "...that could fill in as an everyday guy in the short-term but that could morph into a mentor/teacher for Flores."
At 2-years/$6 million dollars, that's one expensive backup catcher/mentor/teacher the Nationals signed in "Pudge" Rodriguez...(cont. after the JUMP)...
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At 2-years/$6 million dollars, that's one expensive backup catcher/mentor/teacher the Nationals signed in Rodriguez, especially as Mr. Harlan's colleague at the Washington Post, Dave Sheinin notes, in another Nationals Journal post entitled, "Why Pudge? Why Two Years", that Rodriguez had to wait until late in Spring Training last March to find a home (and a one-year deal at half what Washington's giving him), and in 121 games with the Astros and Rangers, the then-37-year-old catcher produced, "...the worst offensive season of his Hall-of-Fame career (with) (career-lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging)."
But a bigger problem than his decline in production and defensive skills, is the fact that his agent, Scott Boras, is talking like he has no intention of being relegated to the bench, as he's quoted on XM's MLB Homeplate Update explaining:
"Certainly in Washington, Pudge has an opportunity, particularly this year to play at a number that's well above that of a backup catcher, so he's going to be a significant contributor..."
"He's won a World Championship in his career, and he took on a situation like this in Detroit, a few years ago when a club was building and it worked out rather well for him..."
Of course, that's his agent speaking for him, but at least through Mr. Boras, it doesn't sound like Rodriguez will be content with a backup role...So what if Flores is healthy? Is Washington ready for the second coming of Paul Lo Duca?