Nationals make trio of moves
Team brings in free agent Boone; signs Pena, Langerhans
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals continue to show how much they want to win in 2008. On Thursday, they signed infielder Aaron Boone to a one-year, $1 million contract, Wily Mo Pena to one-year, $2 million contract plus an option and Ryan Langerhans to a one-year, $500,000 contract.
Boone will most likely be the first option off the bench. He can play all infield positions and provide some pop with the bat. Last season, Boone played in 69 games for Florida and hit .286 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. He was playing on a regular basis at first base before a left knee injury in late June put him out for the rest of the season. Boone's knee is now considered 100 percent healthy.
Boone will be reunited with his former general manager, Jim Bowden, and his father, assistant general manager Bob Boone. All three worked together in the Reds organization.
"He fits our plan. He will be our right-handed hitter off the bench. He is a guy that could play first and third. He could play second if he had to," manager Manny Acta said. "He is very important for the leadership of our clubhouse and the development for our young players."
Boone is best remembered for hitting a series-ending home run off right-hander Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series to lift the Yankees past the Red Sox.
Boone has incentive clauses in his contract that will earn him $50,000 each if he plays 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 games.
Pena was impressive after the Nationals acquired his services in a trade from Boston on Aug. 17, hitting .293 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs in 37 games. Even more impressive was Pena's penchant to hit to the opposite field on a consistent basis.
Acta wants Pena to continue to be a power threat in the lineup and play solid defense in left field.
"Finally, we are going to give Wily Mo enough at-bats to see what he's capable of doing," Acta said. "Hopefully, Wily Mo can hit 30 to 35 home runs for us and continue to put fear in the opposition, which is what he did for us once he joined our club. I didn't think we had anybody that could intimidate another club [before he arrived]."
If the Nationals pick up Pena's option in 2009, Pena will earn $5 million. There also is a player option for $2 million.
Langerhans played in 125 games for three different clubs -- Atlanta, Oakland and Washington -- in 2007, hitting .167 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. He will be given a chance to compete for the fifth outfield spot as the Nationals are looking for a left-handed hitter off the bench. If Langerhans doesn't the make the team and is sent to the Minors, he will earn $300,000.
"It's important to have a left-handed bat, whether it's Langerhans or [Garrett] Guzman or somebody else," Acta said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.