Seeking a big bat and backup first baseman, the Washington Nationals went with a man who has provided both throughout his six-year MLB career, Slippery Rock baseball alumnus Matt Adams. The deal is for one year and $4 million dollars guaranteed, with an extra $500,000 available in incentives.
“[The free market] wasn’t scary for him, he’s very confident in his abilities,” Slippery Rock head coach Jeff Messer said. “But there were nine first basemen looking for a job in the offseason, and there are still four or five looking.”
Adams will replace 34-year old Adam Lind, who had a breakout season last year for the NL East champions. Adams batted .274 with 65 RBIs last year after being traded to the Braves partway through the season.
“He’s behind a very good first basemen in Ryan Zimmerman, but [Zimmerman’s] first healthy year was last season, I think he is in a good place,” Messer said. “I think he could get a one, two or three-year deal if he puts up the same numbers as he did in Atlanta.”
Adams also walloped 20 home runs in only 339 at-bats in a year where he specialized mostly as a fill-in first baseman when star player Freddie Freeman went down with an injury.
“In addition to filling in for [Freeman], he got to […] I will say “explore” left field,” Messer said, laughing. “He’s not a gold glover by any means, but he can play in a pinch.”
Even though Adams is now two teams removed from the Cardinals who originally drafted “Big City” out of Slippery Rock in 2009, Messer said that Adams has no hard feelings at all towards his first team or city.
“Matt still resides in St. Louis, he still loves the city.”
Adams will join a team that is projected to have 7-1 odds to win the World Series in 2018, third-best in the MLB. Obviously joining such a talented team is exciting for Adams, but the gratitude street runs both ways.
“I know the Nationals were really excited to get him,” Messer said.