The Nationals are staying busy in their quest to repeat as World Series champions in 2020. After bringing back infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera and adding infielder Starlin Castro and reliever Will Harris last week, Washington made a pair of moves on Monday to further bolster their roster. According to reports from The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli and Ken Rosenthal, the team has signed veteran first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames to a one-year, $4 million deal, and they’re also bringing back closer Daniel Hudson on a two-year, $11 million pact, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman:
Thames deal with #Nationals is one year, $4M, per source. Salary of $3M in 2020 plus $1M buyout on $4M mutual option in ‘21. Pending physical. First: @Britt_Ghiroli.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 6, 2020
Reliever Daniel Hudson and the Washington Nationals are finalizing a two-year deal, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 6, 2020
Hudson gets 11M plus 1M incentives. #nats @JeffPassan 1st said they were finalizing deal and had the $— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 6, 2020
The 33-year-old Thames effectively replaces Matt Adams — who is a very similar player, actually — as a left-handed hitting first baseman who can provide depth at the corner outfield spots if needed. If the team brings back longtime franchise icon Ryan Zimmerman, Thames may be part of a platoon, and even if Zimmerman doesn’t return it’s possible that Thames could platoon with Howie Kendrick at first. But with the Nats having lost Anthony Rendon this offseason, they’re counting on a combination of Kendrick, Cabrera, Castro, and Carter Kieboom to cover all the innings at second and third base, so Thames may end up getting a majority of the playing time at first if Wsahington doesn’t re-sign Zimmerman and fails to acquire an impact third baseman like Josh Donaldson or Kris Bryant.
Thames has been streaky since returning to the majors in 2017, but overall he’s been a very good player — he hit .241/.343/.504 with 72 homers over three seasons in a Brewers uniform, including a .247/.346/.505 slash line with 25 homers over 459 plate appearances in 2019.
The 32-year-old Hudson has had a very up-and-down career and had not been given a real opportunity as a closer until late in the 2019 season, but he excelled when given that chance and really was dominant for the entirety of the season. Hudson, who signed with the Blue Jays at the beginning of the regular season after being released by the Angels following spring training, threw for a 3.00 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 45 appearances (48 innings) in Toronto. He was dealt for minor-leaguer Kyle Johnston at the deadline and then proceeded to post a 1.44 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP with 23 strikeouts and just four walks over 25 regular-season innings in a Nationals uniform. Other than a rough outing during a blowout loss to the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series, highlighted (or lowlighted?) by a two-run homer that he allowed to George Springer, Hudson was fantastic during the postseason. He converted on all four of his save opportunities, was unscored upon in eight of his 10 appearances, and threw the final pitch of the World Series. His command will probably always be a question mark, but Hudson is another significant addition to a Nationals bullpen that could be pretty good this season with Harris and Sean Doolittle also serving as options in the late innings.