- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007

SAN DIEGO — In a move designed to bolster their outfield defense, the Washington Nationals last night acquired Ryan Langerhans from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Chris Snelling.

The trade, which was completed as the Nationals were facing the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, brings the defensively gifted but offensively challenged Langerhans to Washington, where he will serve as a fourth outfielder backing up all three positions.

The 27-year-old is a career .242 hitter in parts of five seasons, all of which had been spent with the Atlanta Braves until he was dealt to the A’s on Sunday for cash or a player to be named. He has only three hits in 46 at-bats this season, but Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said he wasn’t acquired for his bat.

“He’s a really good defensive player,” Bowden said. “We lost a lot of games with him and Andruw Jones catching balls in the gap. I know late in the game if we’re in the ninth inning and [Austin] Kearns is in right, [Nook] Logan’s in center and Langerhans is in left, there’s not a better defensive outfield in this league.”

Snelling struggled at the plate himself in his 24 games in Washington, hitting just .204 with one homer and seven RBI. Acquired from the Mariners over the winter in the Jose Vidro trade, the 25-year-old recently lost playing time to rookie Kory Casto (who Bowden said likely will remain as the club’s fifth outfielder once Logan comes off the disabled list).

“We just felt that Ryan Langerhans was a better fit for what we’re trying to do right now,” Bowden said.

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