Needing a backup at first base and a big bat from the bench, the National League East champion Washington Nationals have signed Matt Adams to a $4 million one year deal. The full amount of the contract is guaranteed. Included in the contract is a package of incentives that could increase Adams’ salary by $500,000.
Adams, who is 29, will replace Adam Lind, who last month became a free agent after Washington opted not to take his $5 million option.
Instead, the Nationals gave Lind a buyout for $500,000. By signing Adams, the Nats will spend between $4.5 million and $5 million on a backup at first base.
Lind enjoyed a productive season in 2017 for the Nationals, as one of the league’s best bench players, but Adams will likely cost less overall than Lind and is at 29 five years younger than Lind.
In addition, he is similar in how he plays and has produced close to the same numbers as Lind has.
The two have similar career stats. Lind has a career batting average of .288 with an OPS of .852 versus right handers and .217 with an OPS of .592 versus lefties.
In comparison, Adams has an average of .286 with an OPS of .828 versus right-handers and .206 with an OPS of .593 versus lefties.
Both have hit right-handers hard and struggled when facing left-handers. Adams will be the team’s top option for pitch-hitting late in games versus right-handers and will make an occasional start against a right-hander at first base to give Ryan Zimmerman a rest.
A starter most of his MLB career, Adams began with the Cardinals in 2012 and played steadily until being traded to the Braves in May of this year. He hit .274 with 20 homers and an OPS of .841 over 131 games with the two teams.
Much like Lind, Adams can also play left in situations he is need. He played left during 2017 for the first time at the MLB level.
Adams becomes Washington’s first signing during the offseason of a position player. Washington is expected to sign other bench players.
A backup infielder will likely be signed just in case Daniel Murphy has not recovered from knee surgery and Wilmer Difo has to start at second in his place.
Washington might also look for a catcher to back up Matt Wieters, but for the time being that job is Pedro Severino’s.