Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

10 players you forgot played for the Nats

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have a relatively brief team history -- 2019 will be the 15th season since the franchise moved to D.C. in '05 -- and it is a marvel how fast the club has come along. It was not long ago when the Nats were consistent last-place finishers in the National League East, with multiple 100-loss seasons and seemingly no direction. In recent years, they have become one of the most successful franchises in all of baseball, led by some of the game's biggest stars.

It's easy to forget all the players who passed through Washington to bring the Nationals to this point. Those early Nats teams were often a landing spot for veterans holding on at the end of their career, but the team's aggressiveness at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in recent seasons has also boosted the number of players it has taken a chance on, with mixed results.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have a relatively brief team history -- 2019 will be the 15th season since the franchise moved to D.C. in '05 -- and it is a marvel how fast the club has come along. It was not long ago when the Nats were consistent last-place finishers in the National League East, with multiple 100-loss seasons and seemingly no direction. In recent years, they have become one of the most successful franchises in all of baseball, led by some of the game's biggest stars.

It's easy to forget all the players who passed through Washington to bring the Nationals to this point. Those early Nats teams were often a landing spot for veterans holding on at the end of their career, but the team's aggressiveness at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in recent seasons has also boosted the number of players it has taken a chance on, with mixed results.

Today, we are taking a look at 10 players who played for the Nationals that you might not remember, either because they did most of their damage elsewhere, or their time in D.C. was brief or inconsequential.

Aaron Boone, 2008
Now the current Yankees manager, Boone spent the final full big league season of his career in Washington after signing as a free agent in the offseason. On a 102-loss Nationals team that finished in the basement of the NL East, Boone's production was minimal -- a .683 OPS and six home runs in 104 games. Boone played just 10 more games in the Majors the next season in Houston before he retired.

Vinny Castilla, 2005
Slotted into the No. 6 spot in the lineup and playing third base in the first game in Nationals history was Castilla, the two-time All-Star with the Rockies who was considered one of the game's best defensive third baseman at one point. At 37 years old, Castilla could not match the same production he had a year prior in Colorado, and posted an OPS of .722 with only 12 home runs in his lone season in Washington.

Dan Haren, 2013
Haren pitched for eight teams throughout his 13-year Major League career, and perhaps his worst full season came for the Nationals. After signing a one-year deal as a free agent, he posted the worst ERA of his career in any full season at 4.67. Haren went on Twitter a few years back to jokingly apologize for his rough year.

Tweet from @ithrow88: @Nationals Can you take my phone # off the call list. I've been called twice in the last month to renew my season tickets...Sorry for 2013

In retirement, Haren has opened up about the mental health issues he battled during his lone season in D.C., as he grew lonely pitching in Washington with his family in California.

Kelvin Herrera, 2018
It was only this past summer, but the Nationals' latest prize acquisition before the non-waiver Trade Deadline did not work out as well as they hoped. Herrera appeared in just 21 games for the Nats -- posting a 4.34 ERA -- and was hampered by injuries to his left foot and right shoulder as the team fell out of contention in the second half. Herrera signed a two-year deal with the White Sox this offseason and in five years, his brief and unremarkable Nats tenure is likely to be forgotten.

Brad Lidge, 2012
The year that would produce the first postseason team in Nationals history actually began with a 35-year-old Lidge as the club's closer coming out of Spring Training after an injury to Drew Storen. Lidge's tenure was short in D.C., however, and he made only seven appearances during his first month as closer, converting two saves and blowing two more before he went to the DL with an abdominal strain. Lidge would return in June to make four more appearances before he was released. He never pitched in the Majors again.

Paul Lo Duca, 2008
A four-time All-Star who spent a good portion of his career tormenting the Nationals (and Expos before that) in the NL East, the Nats signed the veteran Lo Duca as a free agent before the 2008 season, but he did not last long on the last-place club. Lo Duca appeared in 46 games and posted a 56 OPS+ before he was granted his release that July.

Mark Melancon, 2016
Acquiring a closer at the non-waiver Trade Deadline has become something of a summer tradition for general manager Mike Rizzo, and in 2016, after missing out on Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, the Nats acquired Melancon from the Pirates to solidify the end of games for a postseason-bound team. Melancon was all the Nationals could have asked for, with a 1.82 ERA and 17 saves in 30 games and he did not allow a run in four appearances during the NL Division Series. However, the club failed to re-sign him or make a lengthy postseason run in '16, so Melancon's tenure may fade from memory as the years past.

Ivan Rodriguez, 2010-11
Nationals fans have certainly not forgotten the contributions Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez made in such a short stint in Washington, but fans around the country may have forgotten that Rodriguez spent the final two seasons of his 22-year career in D.C. His time on the field was mostly forgettable -- 155 games across two seasons with a .632 OPS -- but the veteran was behind the dish for Stephen Strasburg's electric debut. Rodriguez's impact on the team and community was so large that the Nationals Dream Foundation dedicated and named a renovated Little League field in the D.C. area "Pudge Rodriguez Field," and placed his name on the team's Ring of Honor at Nationals Park.

Alfonso Soriano, 2006
The best single season of Soriano's career did not come with the Yankees, Cubs or Rangers, but during his only season with the Nationals, when he played like an NL Most Valuable Player Award candidate. Washington moved him to left field for the first time in his career, which was met with pushback from Soriano before he eventually made himself into an All-Star at the position. He played in 159 games, mashed 46 home runs, posted a 135 OPS+ and 6.1 Wins Above Replacement (all career highs) and stole 41 bases. Soriano cashed in on that career year in the offseason, signing an eight-year, $136 million deal with the Cubs in 2007.

Dan Uggla, 2015
Uggla's Nationals career was unremarkable, but he will be remembered for helping lead the Nats to one magical comeback in April 2015. After trailing by eight runs to the Braves on April 28 in Atlanta, the Nationals stormed back to win the game, 13-12, thanks to Uggla's game-winning three-run homer in the ninth, complete with a chocolate-syrup shower from Max Scherzer that would become the team's go-to celebration that season.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals