Next for Phillies: Nix from Nats

The addition of Laynce Nix seems to indicate opportunity for Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr.
The addition of Laynce Nix seems to indicate opportunity for Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. (MIKE ZARRILLI / GETTY IMAGES)
Posted: December 05, 2011

DALLAS - The 2-year deal that the Phillies are close to striking with Laynce Nix, according to a baseball source, could be accompanied by two loud sighs of relief.

The first would come from John Mayberry Jr., who at 28 will enter spring training with his first legitimate shot at an everyday job. The second would come from Domonic Brown, who just might find himself with another big-league opportunity by the end of the 2012 season.

While both Mayberry and Brown would be impacted by the signing of a higher-caliber outfielder, Nix is not that player. The 31-year-old journeyman has never logged more than 400 plate appearances in a season and last year hit just .250 with a .299 on-base percentage and .451 slugging percentage for the Washington Nationals.

In fact, you could argue that the Phillies did little more than shed 8 years of age in bidding adieu to 39-year-old Raul Ibanez in favor of Nix. Put it this way: Ibanez' 2011 performance, when he hit .245 with a .289 on-base percentage, .419 slugging percentage, 106 strikeouts and 20 home runs, was the worst of his 10 seasons as an everyday player. And those numbers are better than the ones that Nix has posted for his career: .244/.288/.430, with an average of 120 strikeouts and 17 home runs per 162 games.

As of last night, the 2-year deal was still unofficial and the exact terms unknown. Nix will take a physical in Philadelphia this week, after which the Phillies are expected to announce the signing. The Phillies could still look for an upgrade in left - Michael Cuddyer was an early target, but there has been no indication that the two sides can match up on a deal - and slide Nix into a bench or rotational role. For now, though, the club seems intent on giving Mayberry the opportunity they feel he earned in 2011, when he hit .273/.341/.513 with 15 home runs and eight steals in 296 plate appearances.

A platoon situation would not make much sense, at least before Mayberry gets an extended chance to prove himself. The righthanded slugger performed just as well against righties as Nix did in 2011, posting a .250/.330/.455 line with seven home runs, 37 strikeouts and 18 walks in 176 plate appearances (Nix hit .263/.306/.475 with 16 home runs, 71 strikeouts and 19 walks in 320 plate appearances against righties). More likely would be a platoon at first base if Ryan Howard starts the season on the disabled list. Nix started six games at first last season and did not commit an error, although it was his first action at the position in his career. He could combine with righthanded hitter Ty Wigginton if Howard's recovery from Achilles' tendon surgery stretches into the season.

Nix, who spent time with the Rangers, Brewers and Reds before moving on to the Nationals, earned $700,000 last season.

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