WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals' bench was one of their strengths in 2016 and they made a move to strengthen that unit, agreeing with free agent Adam Lind on a one-year deal.The deal, which the club announced Wednesday, gives the Nationals a powerful left-handed bat off the bench
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals' bench was one of their strengths in 2016 and they made a move to strengthen that unit, agreeing with free agent Adam Lind on a one-year deal.
The deal, which the club announced Wednesday, gives the Nationals a powerful left-handed bat off the bench and provides insurance at first base and left field. The agreement includes a mutual option for '18.
Lind, 33, struggled in 126 games for Seattle last season where he had a .717 OPS and a 94 OPS+, where 100 is league average, though he hit 20 home runs. He has hit at least 20 home runs in three of the past four seasons, and from 2013-15 he had three consecutive seasons with a 123 OPS+ or higher.
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Lind does not have much experience coming off the bench, but he has had success in the role with a .921 career OPS and five home runs in 94 career at-bats at a pinch-hiter.
The Nationals have not dipped into free agency much during this offseason, with their only moves helping out their bench by re-signing Chris Heisey and Stephen Drew.
Last year's bench was fifth in the NL in OPS (.721) with the third most pinch-hit home runs (12) in the Majors, so Lind should add even more power to a group that includes Drew, Heisey, Jose Lobaton and whoever wins the battle for the fourth outfielder between Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin.
Lind's signing also means that Clint Robinson will have a difficult time making this roster. Robinson is also left-handed and plays first base and left field, so having both coming off the bench would be redundant. Robinson, who turns 32 on Thursday, has been a member of the roster the past two years after turning a Minor League invitation into his first Opening Day roster spot in 2015, but did not match the same production in 2016.
First baseman Ryan Zimmerman has had his battles with injuries during the past few years, and Lind gives them a viable backup in case Zimmerman lands on the disabled list again. Or Lind could take over in left field if needed for Jayson Werth, who has had injury issues in the past and will turn 38 in May. At the very least, Lind gives the Nationals options to rest Werth and Zimmerman regularly and keep them healthy through the entire season.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.