WASHINGTON — The Nationals are reportedly in the process of signing Adam Lind, an outfielder and first baseman who figures to serve as relief to Ryan Zimmerman. Per Chelsea Janes, the deal is pending a physical, but he had a locker when the team opened spring training on Tuesday morning.
The details of the deal were revealed Monday evening.
The Nationals have worked to stock up their bench over the offseason, and the team now employs Lind, Stephen Drew and Chris Heisey. It remains somewhat murky who else will be on the roster after the starting eight position players, but the shape of the team is gradually forming.
Lind quickly becomes the team’s most dangerous bench hitter. A 33-year-old lefty who played nine seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays before spending a season each with the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners, Lind has hit at least 20 home runs in three of his past four seasons and six of his 10 seasons overall. He’s hit at least nine home runs in all but one season, with the only exception coming in 2014. (He also appeared in 18 games as a rookie in 2006.)
His career slash line is .271/.328/.462, and he’s hit 186 home runs, driven in 664 runs and scored 549 runs while striking out 898 times and walking 365 times. He won the Edgar Martinez Award in 2009 for the best designated hitter.
Though he has played both left field and first base, his best position is on the bench — his career dWAR is minus-10.5. He won’t provide many run-saving plays at first base, but he’s capable enough to fill in for Zimmerman, and his offensive skills more than justify his roster spot.
Lind suffered a down year in 2016, putting up an ugly line of .239/.286/.431, but he still clubbed 20 home runs and 17 doubles in just 401 at-bats. The season before, however, he put together a fine season that featured a .277/.360/.460 line with 20 home runs, 32 doubles and a career-high 66 walks.
As for how he fits among the other bench bats, Lind provides something Drew and Heisey don’t, which is game-changing power. Drew has one season of 21 home runs, Heisey hit 18 home runs in 2011, but otherwise neither player has all that much pop to speak of. Lind also has the best numbers against right-handed pitchers of the trio.
He also has better career numbers against right-handers than Zimmerman, who has managed a career line of .270/.329/.454 against righties, and he’s a marked improvement over Clint Robinson, the incumbent power-hitting lefty on the Nationals’ bench. Robinson’s career line against right-handed pitching is .243/.325/.385, and though he is quite effective against lefties for a left-handed hitter (.348/.413/.379 over 66 at-bats), Robinson’s time with the Nationals has likely come to an end.
It’s unlikely Lind will see extended time as a starter if Zimmerman is healthy, but Zimmerman has also played just 271 out of 486 regular-season games over the past three seasons, so Lind could have significant opportunity to play. Manager Dusty Baker might also choose to give Zimmerman extra rest knowing he has Lind waiting in the wings.
The Nationals might still not have a clearly defined closer, but they appear to have made a considerable addition to their bench.