Now-former Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker talked early in Spring Training about a conversation he had with Adam Lind after the veteran signed a 1-year/$1.5M deal with the Nationals, which included a mutual option for $5M in 2018 (or a $500,000 buyout).
Lind, 34, put up a .277/.360/.460 line, 32 doubles and 20 home runs with Milwaukee in 2015, finishing with 119 wRC+, at 2.3 fWAR over 149 games and 572 plate appearances.
He was then dealt to the Seattle Mariners, for whom he put up a .239/.286/.431 line with 17 doubles, 20 HRs, and 92 wRC+ over 126 games and 430 PAs, finishing up the 2016 campaign at -0.6 fWAR.
Baker said he didn’t know Lind too well, at least based on what he’d done recently.
“I don’t know a lot about him lately,” Baker qualified. “I know Cito Gaston, when he was with Toronto, he really liked Adam Lind,” who played for the Blue Jays, who drafted him in 2004, from 2006-2014.
“I’ve spoken to Adam and I heard he’s a great teammate,” Baker said. “He used to hit the ball out to left field like a right-handed hitter, and the last couple years, when I talked to him, he said he’s gotten a little pull happy, so perhaps we can get him back to the center of the field, the big part of the ballpark, because if you can hit the ball out to left, they shouldn’t really have any set way to pitch you or to play you.”
“He told me that last year they shifted the shortstop way up the middle on him and he was a little stubborn trying to hit through the shift,” Baker continued, “... but I just reminded him that he was a hitter, not a slugger because you know this guy has hit .300, .320, and you don’t hit .320 pulling everything, and so his homers remained about the same, but his batting average went down and that’s what happens when you try to pull it.”
Lind said this spring that he knew what he’d signed up for, mostly part-time work, but, he explained, there weren’t many opportunities out there over the winter.
“It’s a j-o-b,” Lind said. “I mean, really, didn’t have too much to choose from, so it was nice that Mike [Rizzo] offered me the opportunity to help this team.”
“I don’t think it will be too challenging at the beginning,” Lind said, “because the last few years I’ve had a platoon, so I know what it’s like to have days off, off the bench, but if I only have two or three starts at the end of the June, then it might become — then I’ll have to figure something out, but I don’t think it will be too big of a problem at the beginning.”
By the end of June, Lind had started in 21 games, appeared in 51, and put up an impressive .327/.392/.567 line with seven doubles and six home runs in 120 PAs.
He ended the 2017 campaign 16 for 45 (.356/.396/.644) as a pinch hitter, with a double and franchise-record four home runs, which was tied for the MLB lead in pinch hit HRs.
Overall on the season, Lind put up a .303/.362/.513 line with 14 doubles and 14 home runs in 116 games and 301 PAs, over which he produced 122 wRC+, finishing up at 0.9 fWAR.
In his first postseason at bats in twelve major league seasons, Lind went 2 for 3 in the NLDS against Chicago, singling to start the Nats’ rally in the Game 2 win over the Cubs.
He talked after that game about his first experience in the postseason and getting an opportunity to contribute late in his career.
“I don't really know how to explain it right now,” Lind said.
“It's been a heck of a year, from the beginning of Spring until this point. I mean, I can't really put into words what it's like right now. Probably won't be able to for a good while.
“But you know, I had a talk with Ryan Madson, and just, enjoy it; don't think about the pressure and where you're at and what's going on. Just enjoy it as much as you can.”
Will Lind be back in D.C. in 2018? Will he try to cash in on a big season coming off the bench and find something better than another year at $5M deal? Will the Nationals, who paid Lind $1.5M this season, want to pay him $5M next season to do the same job?