MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — As the Nationals begin the transition toward constructing their 2012 roster as it pertains to their outfield, they’ve exchanged figures with outfielder Laynce Nix on a contract for next season.
The two sides haven’t made significant progress toward common ground but both sides appear open to discussing a deal and have talked about what it would take to keep Nix in Washington in 2012 and perhaps beyond that.
Nix, 30, is comfortable with the Nationals and would be happy to remain with them going forward and the team has been pleased with what he’s been able to provide for them this year. But Nix, Rick Ankiel and Jonny Gomes are all free agents after this season. Gomes projects as a Type-B free agent and will have to decide whether or not to accept an arbitration offer from the Nationals. If he does not accept, the Nationals will receive a compensation draft pick from whichever team signs him this offseason.
“We’re certainly discussing internally who, how many and which players we want to bring back,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Sunday when asked about his free-agent outfielders. “They’ve all performed admirably for us. They played hard and they’re terrific guys in the clubhouse. There’s not one of them that we wouldn’t want on the team next year. But they’re going to have options after the season because all three of them in my mind have had good solid seasons. We’ll see after the year.”
When the Nationals signed Nix to a minor league deal this past February, shortly before spring training began, they got a serious bargain. Nix, who made the Nationals out of camp and became an integral part of their outfield mix, including significant time as their starting left fielder, has hit .251 with a career-high 16 home runs this season.
Nix would help provide another veteran presence on a team set to be choc-full of younger talent and his left-handed power off the bench is attractive to the Nationals.
He has played in 123 games for the Nationals this year — fourth-most on the roster behind only Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and Michael Morse. He’s started 79 of them. He has a .259 average with a .305 on-base percentage and .472 slugging percentage with 15 home runs in games he starts.
Nix’s contract paid him $700,000 this season. Ankiel was signed to a $1.5 million contract for this season while Gomes made $2.55 million, though the Nationals only paid a portion of that after they traded for him from Cincinnati in July.