Nats sign veteran hitter Stairs

Nats sign veteran hitter Stairs
December 14, 2010, 5:29 pm
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 12:26 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman

The Washington Nationals have signed Matt Stairs to a minor-league contract, bringing aboard a veteran slugger who will most likely serve as their top left-handed pinch-hitter in 2011.

Stairs, who turns 43 in February, is baseball's all-time leader with 23 pinch-hit home runs. He's played for 12 different major-league clubs over the last 19 seasons in a career that began in 1992 with the Montreal Expos.

A first baseman and corner outfielder in his younger days, Stairs has been limited to DH and pinch-hitting duties in recent years. He hit .232 with six homers and 16 RBI in 78 games (111 plate appearances) for the Padres this season, with 57 of those plate appearances coming as a pinch-hitter.

The deal is not for guaranteed money, so if Stairs doesn't make the Opening Day roster, it won't cost the Nationals anything.

A native of New Brunswick, Stairs is 25 years older than one of the players he'll play alongside next spring: Bryce Harper, who is set to participate in big-league camp at age 18.