According to multiple reports, the Washington Nationals signed 17-year veteran outfielder Mike Cameron to a minor league contract Monday. Cameron, 39 on Jan. 8, hit .230/.285/.359 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs last season in 269 plate appearances between Boston and Florida. For his career, Cameron has hit .249/.338/.444 with 23 home runs per 162 games played.
Cameron was once a prolific base-stealer as well, with a career-high 38 in 1999, but does not run much at all anymore, as his one successful attempt last season will attest. He is a terrific defender, having won three Gold Gloves throughout the course of his underappreciated career.
Cameron spend the second half of last season with Florida, where he hit .238/.331/.420 with six homers in 164 plate appearances before being released after an altercation with a flight attendant on a team charter. Cameron also served a 25-game MLB suspension in 2007 for testing positive for a banned stimulant.
It’s no secret the Nats have been in the market for a center fielder this winter, especially one that could hit lead-off, but they have been unable to crack that market as of yet. Cameron gives them a decent fall-back option to platoon with Roger Bernadina or Rick Ankiel should they not be able to upgrade at starter over the off-season.
Alternatively, if the team feels Bryce Harper is ready to make the team out of spring training — presumably in right field, with Jayson Werth sliding over to center field — the Ankiel-Cameron outfield bench would give the Nats plenty of late-inning options, both offensively and defensively.