Adam Lind had to wait until February 15th to find out where he would be playing this season, but given the wait and the late date of his signing, things worked out well for the 33-year-old, 11-year veteran, who inked a deal with the Washington Nationals.
Lind signed a 1-year/$1.5M contract with the defending NL East Champions (which includes an option for 2018 at $5M or $5K buyout) and reported to the Nats’ new Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach.
“To sign this late with this quality of a team, it’s — you couldn’t ask for anything else,” he told reporters this past weekend.
“I’m real excited to watch these guys play every day, I’ve had the opportunity to watch some really good hitters and I’ll have that opportunity again this year... and pitching.”
Coming off a .277/.360/.460, 32 double, 20 home run campaign in Milwaukee in 2015 in which he was worth 119 wRC+ and 2.3 fWAR in 149 games and 572 plate appearances, Lind was 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 2016 at -0.6 fWAR.
Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker said he didn’t really know Lind well when he was asked about the roster addition this weekend.
“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.”
“I’ve spoken to Adam and I heard he’s a great teammate,” Baker continued. “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, 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.”
“He’s excited to be here,” Baker said. “We have some good competition for jobs and if you’re going to win you have to have depth in a number of areas, so we have some depth and you know I’ve just got to get a good look at some of the guys once the games start.”
The competition, however, is not likely to be for the starting spot at first, where Ryan Zimmerman is expected to start, or in the outfield, which is pretty much set with Jayson Werth in left, Adam Eaton in center and Bryce Harper in right field barring any injuries this Spring.
And Lind hasn’t played in the outfield since 2010.
Mike Rizzo on Ryan Zimmerman's "our first baseman, our everyday first baseman...and he'll hit in the middle of the order for us."— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) February 20, 2017
Baker was asked about Lind potentially platooning at first or in left, but said he didn’t think that was likely.
“Right now Werth and Zim are my left fielder and first baseman,” Baker explained, and a being part of a platoon for either, “that’s a tough sell.”
Werth, who turns 38 in May, is in the final year of his 7-year/$126M deal with the Nats and due $21M this season, and as Baker noted, he, “has worked extremely hard to get himself into even better shape than he was before. He takes great care of himself.”
“As far as Zim,” Baker said, “he’s my ‘pick to click’ to come out and have a great year.
“He’s starting Spring Training healthy. Last year we had to monitor his playing time to try to get him over his foot injuries and so Zim’s not old and he’s not overweight, and so I don’t see why Zim can’t have an outstanding year and I’ve got to give those guys the nod.”
“But like I said, you need depth on your team and who knows, guys can get hurt or whatever it is and then you’ve got to depend on the guys you were signing for that depth.
“But right now, we’ve got to find games for Lind and for [Clint] Robinson who did a great job for us.”
“Ultimately I think I’m the pinch hitter,” Lind said.
“I think the organization would like those guys [Werth and Zimmerman] to play every day, because they’re pretty good players. Hopefully I just do well if my name is called.”
Lind has a .309/.389/.532 line, six doubles and five home runs in 108 PAs as a pinch hitter over the course of his career, and he said the last few seasons platooning in Milwaukee and Seattle have prepared him for the role he’s expected to play.
“I don’t think it will be too challenging at the beginning,” he 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.”
It might not be an ideal situation, Lind said, but it’s a job.
“It’s a j-o-b. 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.”