Could Nationals bring back Ankiel?

Could Nationals bring back Ankiel?
February 2, 2012, 2:05 pm
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It's no secret the Nationals would like to add another left-handed bat to their bench, preferably an outfielder who could perhaps start some games in either center or right fields early in the season before Bryce Harper makes his big-league debut.

And it's no secret a man who would seemingly fit that role perfectly, Rick Ankiel, remains unsigned and available.

So how come the Nationals haven't swooped in and re-signed the popular Ankiel, who dazzled teammates and fans alike with his rocket throws from center field last season and provided a bit of punch at the plate?

Because it takes two to tango, and right now Ankiel is holding out hope for a better offer than the Nationals are likely to give him.

The 32-year-old pitcher-turned-outfielder would prefer to sign with a club that can offer him a chance to start on a regular basis. The Nationals can't make that offer, at least not over the long haul. They may need a stop-gap to fill one remaining outfield slot come Opening Day, but that player will almost certainly head to the bench once Harper is promoted (whether that comes at the end of spring training, the end of April or the end of June).

Is there another club willing to give Ankiel more playing time? It doesn't particularly look that way. The Mets and Reds have reportedly expressed interest in him, but both teams would likely use Ankiel at most as a platoon outfielder.

So there may still be hope for the Nationals. If they're willing to wait this out and hope Ankiel is willing to come back to D.C. for less of a role than he prefers.