1/9/2014 5:22 P.M. ET
Inbox: Who's best for middle-infield depth?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers questions from Nationals fans
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Most of the talk about a middle infielder for the bench is centered on Danny Espinosa. What are your thoughts about Jeff Kobernus? I would play him and trade Espinosa.
-- Alan M., Manassas, Va.
The Nationals believe Kobernus is best suited in the outfield. When he was in the big leagues last year, Washington hardly used him in the infield, and it makes you wonder about his future is with the Nats. If I had to take a guess, I would say Kobernus would not make the Opening Day roster. Remember, Nate McLouth will be the fourth outfielder.
As far as Espinosa goes, I will be shocked if he is with the team by the end of Spring Training. I just don't see him on the bench for Washington. Espinosa has to have a great spring in order to stay with the team. I said this before: I think teams around the league believe he can still play every day, and I think he will be traded before Opening Day.
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Who do I think will be the backup middle infielder for the Nationals? It's hard to say. They signed Jamey Carroll, Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burris to Minor League contracts. We'll see what happens by the end of Spring Training.
Is Bill Bray still with the Nationals? If I remember, he had health issues. Any chance he could be in the mix for a lefty slot in the bullpen?
-- Greg C., Poquoson, Va.
Bray is not with the organization -- he is currently a free agent. He had shoulder surgery and will not be ready to throw until May. Bray told me he would like to return to the Nats. When he is healthy, Bray could be a quality reliever for a team.
Are the Nats pursuing any other lefty relievers, or is Jerry Blevins all there is to it?
-- Will K., Washington
The Nationals are thinking about using Ross Detwiler and Sammy Solis as possible lefties in the bullpen. I can't sit here and say they are not looking at other players. Michael Gonzalez is available, for example. But they are not going break the bank to get that lefty pitcher.
Any word on F. P. Santangelo re-signing for the 2014 season?
-- Hensley C., Culpeper, Va.
Santangelo will be back in the TV booth with Bob Carpenter on MASN in 2014. It will mark Santangelo's fourth year with the club. His contract expires after the season.
Tyler Moore is an enigma. He seems to have all the tools to be a regular .280 hitter with 20 homers. Why does he appear to only be in the Nats' plans as a bench player?
-- Bobby M., Clarence Center, N.Y.
First of all, you have Adam LaRoche as the starting first baseman. There will not be any platooning between the two players. There is a possibility that LaRoche could be a free agent if the mutual option isn't picked up. But keep in mind that Moore must have a productive season if he wants to play often in 2015.
Do you think it is likely that the Nationals will sign both Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann to contract extensions this offseason?
-- Jay S., Washington
After my talk with Desmond recently, I would say yes, but during Spring Training. I don't think he is looking to break the bank. Desmond wants a deal that is fair for both sides. As far as Zimmermann is concerned, he has already said he is not going to take a team discount, so I don't see him getting an extension. Do I see him getting traded? No, unless general manager Mike Rizzo gets a lot in return for Zimmermann.