The Washington Times - December 4, 2011, 06:27PM

The first domino of the 2011 winter meetings fell early Sunday evening when former Nationals outfielder Laynce Nix agreed to a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The deal, which is pending a physical, is the first major league deal that Nix has signed as a free agent. The left-hander hit .250 with the Nationals in 2011, with a career-high 16 home runs.

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Sources told the Washington Times late last week that Nix was close to agreeing with a team and that there were two-year offers on the table. The Nationals were interested in bringing Nix back, talking with his representation as recently as Thanksgiving weekend but ultimately the slugging left-hander chose to go 140 miles north and join the Nationals divisional rival, Philadelphia with a two-year pact. According to a source, Boston and Oakland also made a push to acquire Nix’s services. 

Nix joins a Philadelphia bench that already includes veterans Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome, as well as an outfield that includes Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. Nix hits right-handers very well while Mayberry hits left-handers better than right. The two could potentially form a platoon in left field for the Phillies. 

Nix was a steal on a minor league deal signed last February for the Nationals and put up solid numbers this past season but he was hampered by a few nagging injuries down the stretch. He made the team out of camp as a bench player but forced his way into the lineup with steady offensive production and solid defense in left field. At the All-Star break, Nix had not only shed his designation as a bench player and pinch hitter but was patrolling left field regularly and hitting .274 with a .506 slugging percentage and 12 home runs.

His first half was good enough to slot him into the cleanup spot for a few weeks from May to July and the power he displayed on several occasions was jaw-dropping. But an Achilles issue, which often acted up without much warning, and, late in the season, a strained groin limited him to just 85 plate appearances after Aug. 1. The addition of Jonny Gomes also helped to decrease Nix’s playing time. 

The good news for the Nationals is that Nix has rarely faced any of their pitchers so he has no career numbers to speak of against any of their projected starting rotation. He does, however, remain in a division with Braves’ pitchers Tim Hudson (.333 career AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR) and Jair Jurrjens (.364 career AVG, 1 2B). Nix hit right-handers at a .263 clip and all 16 of his home runs came off right-handed pitching. 

Jim Salisbury of CSN in Philadelphia was the first to report the Phillies had agreed with Nix.