Among Royals fans, Friday December 14th will forever be known as Xavier Nady day. Okay so maybe that is more than a little heavy handed, but the team did sign the 34-year old OF/1B to a minor league contract yesterday. It has not been confirmed but it is assumed that as a part of that deal he will be invited to Spring Training.
Upon hearing of this latest minor league contract I flashed back to the scene from Major League when Jake Taylor reports to camp:
Charlie Donovan: There’s Jake Taylor.
Lou Brown: He was an all-star in Boston, wasn’t he?
Charlie Donovan: Yeah, wound up in the Mexican League. Had problems with his knees.
Pepper Leach: Wish we had him two years ago.
Charlie Donovan: We did.
Pepper Leach: Four years ago then
Obviously it isn’t exact since this will be Nady’s first stint in the Royals organization but I do wish we had him four years ago instead of today. That quote popping up is just the way my mind works I suppose.
A second round pick of the Padres back in 2000, Nady has bounced around through the years. In addition to San Diego, he’s played for the Pirates, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Mets, Giants, Cubs and Nationals. If you’re keeping track Kansas City will be his ninth team in 14 years. Along the way he’s hit 0.270/.324/.432 with 101 HR in 2,932 AB off major league pitching and his OPS+ currently sits at an exactly average 100.
A fun Xavier Nady fact to impress your friends: his first hit as a professional actually came in his major league debut on September 30th, 2000 when he rapped a pinch hit single off the Dodgers Onan Masaokain the bottom of the 7th. From there he made his minor league debut the following spring and didn’t return to the majors to collect his second big league hit until the 2003 season.
He’s obviously past his prime and is now more than four seasons removed from the 2008 campaign that stands as the high water mark in his career. That year he hit 0.305/.357/.510 with 25 HR and an OPS+ of 127 in 148 games with the Pirates and Yankees. In addition to being a career season, 2008 was the last of a four year run where he was an above average major league hitter. Nady lost almost the entire 2009 season due to injury and has seen his offensive value steadily erode ever since.
Xavier Nady has had a solid major league career, but the three time Top-100 prospect – he peaked at #39 in Baseball America’s rankings – never seemed to fully live up to his potential. Rarely one to draw a walk (5.8 BB%) he’s managed to post a near league average on-base percentage and has kept his strikeouts somewhat in check over the years as well (19.3%). Even though he’s never reached his projected ceiling, it hasn’t stopped him from making $20 million over the course of his career, nor has it kept him from being in demand as he was a part of three trades (2005, 2006 and 2008).
Given where he’s at in his career and seeing the way his production has dropped off in recent seasons it’s tough to envision Nady doing anything more than providing the Kansas City Royals with some outfield depth in Triple-A. The organization has a need in that regard and it’s just a minor league deal so it’s hard to find any fault with the signing.
That said, it would have been nice if he had been on the roster four or five years ago.