The Washington Nationals continued their efforts to restock their bench, closing in on a deal with utility man Mark DeRosa late Wednesday night, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.
DeRosa, who has missed much of the previous two seasons with a wrist injury, can play infield and outfield and will serve as a right-handed bat off the bench.
The utility player has been a target of the Nationals all offseason, their courtship starting early in November when manager Davey Johnson called DeRosa to recruit him. Johnson, who managed DeRosa in the World Baseball Classic in 2009, speaks highly of the 36-year-old.
"I looked at his last two years and they weren't too stellar," Johnson said at the winter meetings in early December. "I know he had injured his left wrist but I had him in the World Baseball Classic, and he's a really quality guy. I really like him.
"If he's healthy, he fits the role about as good as you can get."
DeRosa has played just 73 total games since the end of the 2009 season, hitting .149 with San Francisco in 2010 and .279 this past season with the Giants. He struggled throughout with a left wrist issue that required surgery in and around his ECU tendon.
Prior to injury, though, DeRosa was a legitimate threat. From 2006-2009, DeRosa averaged a .281 batting average, .356 on-base percentage and .448 slugging percentage. In 2008 and 2009, DeRosa hit 21 and 23 home runs, respectively. If healthy, DeRosa gives the Nationals the power bat off the bench they were searching for often in 2011.
His addition will help cushion the blow of the Nationals losing first baseman Chris Marrero to a torn hamstring while playing in the Dominican Winter League. It also allows Johnson the leeway to potentially platoon left-hander Adam LaRoche at first base.
Over the course of his 14-season career, DeRosa has played every position, except for center field, catcher and pitcher.
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