Nationals add Senzel to play 3B, sign reliever Floro

December 13th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals addressed two key areas of need for next season on Tuesday, agreeing to one-year deals with third baseman and righty reliever .

The Nationals have had success in recent years identifying non-tendered players with the potential for a bounce-back season, and they will look to yield the same results with 2016 No. 2 overall pick Senzel, whose deal is expected to be worth $2 million.

Senzel, 28, was non-tendered by the Reds in November. He played in 104 games for Cincinnati in 2023, hitting .236 with a .696 OPS, 13 home runs, six steals and 42 RBIs. Senzel, selected by the Reds in the 2016 Draft, owns a career .239/.302/.369 slash line.

“Washington was kind of on my radar right after I got non-tendered by Cincinnati,” Senzel said in a video conference call on Wednesday. “Obviously playing them, knowing that there was opportunity to be able to compete for a job there ... I was able to talk to [manager Dave Martinez] and some of the coaches, and they expect me to play third base every day. In-game, I can move to second base and the outfield.”

Although he has played the majority of his big league career in center field, Senzel was drafted out of Tennessee as a third baseman, and he logged 1,738 innings at the position in the Minor Leagues. Senzel was lauded for his defense at third base during his time in Cincinnati, including 40 starts last season.

The Nationals have been in the market for a starting third baseman since trading Jeimer Candelario to the Cubs last season. Before the Nats had a deal with Senzel, Candelario agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with the Reds that includes a $15 million club option for 2027.

“I really like the reactionary part of [third base] -- how everything happens so fast and the ball is on you and you have to make quick decisions and be pretty reactionary to it,” Senzel said. “I feel like -- and you can ask any baseball player, probably -- the less time you have to think, the better off you are just to react. ... I play the ball on the run pretty well, so I do take to the angle at third base well.”

Senzel will be greeted by a very familiar face when he joins the Nationals in Spring Training -- one of his childhood best friends is Lane Thomas.

“We grew up playing together [in Knoxville, Tenn.],” Senzel said. “This opportunity that was brought to me, an opportunity to be able to play every day and get a new start in a historic franchise, was just kind of a no-brainer for me. And just having Lane, one of my best buddies I grew up with, playing right field, it's really insane to be honest.”

Floro, whose deal is for $2.25 million plus incentives, can fill an important role in the bullpen. General manager Mike Rizzo said at the Winter Meetings that the Nationals were looking for “good, capable Major League relievers that we could count on and not have such a split with our ‘A’ group and our ‘B’ group.” Floro owns a career 3.60 ERA in the seventh through ninth innings.

“I’m pretty flexible,” Floro said Wednesday on a video conference call. “... Yeah, I want to pitch in the back end of the game, late innings. I like that, it’s the competitor in me. But sometimes it’s going to be a situation where I might not pitch in that situation, because it’s going to be better for the team to get a ‘W,’ and I’ve done that before in the past, too.”

Floro, 32, made 62 relief appearances between Minnesota and Miami last season. He went 5-6 with a 4.76 ERA and seven saves across 56 2/3 innings. Overall, he is 26-22 with a 3.42 ERA and 32 saves in eight seasons as a member of the Twins (2023), Marlins (‘21-23), Dodgers (‘18-20), Reds (‘18), Cubs (‘17) and Rays (‘16).

Floro ranks seventh among all relievers since the start of the 2020 season with 0.45 home runs allowed per nine innings. He also joins now-teammate Kyle Finnegan in the group of relievers who have recorded at least 30 saves and 25 holds since the beginning of the 2021 season. Floro won the 2020 World Series with Los Angeles.

“My biggest strength would probably be my two-seamer,” Floro said. “I'm a big ground-ball pitcher. I'm probably not going to blow your doors off with strikeouts and everything like that, but I know my strength and my strength is usually to get early contact, weak contact and get ground balls.”

To make room on the 40-man roster for these signings, the Nats designated infielder  for assignment.