The Nationals have signed outfielder Rick Ankiel to a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.5 million, with performance bonuses worth an additional $1.25 million. News of the deal, which is contingent on Ankiel passing a physical, was first reported by Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and confirmed by Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Ankiel, a former pitcher who turned into an outfielder, played 74 of a possible 162 games in 2010. He began the season with the Kansas City Royals before being traded to the Atlanta Braves along with Royals teammate Kyle Farnsworth in a trade deadline-day deal for Gregor Blanco, Jesse Chavez, and minor leaguer Tim Collins.
All told, Ankiel posted the following numbers in his so-called "slash stats" (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage/OPS): .232/.321/.389/.710. He also hit six home runs and drove in 24 runs in his 2010 season.
The 31-year-old Ankiel is expected to compete for a starting spot in left field with Roger Bernadina. Ankiel began his career as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, but experienced long-lasting bouts with wildness, most infamously in Game 2 of the 2000 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets, in which Ankiel lasted two-thirds of an inning while walking three Mets and throwing two wild pitches. After an aborted comeback as a pitcher in 2004 for St. Louis, Ankiel became an outfielder and had some success for St. Louis, hitting 25 home runs in 2008 before signing with the Royals after the 2009 season.