Strong bench important to Nats this offseason

Strong bench important to Nats this offseason

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are looking to strengthen their bench and are interested in Willie Bloomquist, Aaron Miles and Miguel Cairo, according to a baseball source. The club had an interest in Geoff Blum, but he's close to signing with the D-backs.

The Nationals want more than just offensive production (.202 batting average this past season) and solid defense off the bench. They want reserves who will accept their roles. The source said too many of the Nats' reserves harped about playing time last season.

General manager Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman were unavailable for comment.

Bloomquist, Miles and Cairo are accustomed to coming off the bench -- and succeeding. This past season, Cairo, who can play all four infield positions, had one of his best seasons off the bench, hitting .290 with four home runs and 28 RBIs for the Reds. The source is impressed by how Cairo never complains about playing time and often tries to help his teammates.

Miles, an infielder, played in 79 games for the Cardinals this past season, hitting .281 with nine RBIs. Bloomquist played a combined 83 games for the Royals and Reds, hitting .267 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. He can play several positions, including the corner-outfield spots and second base.

The Nationals currently have three reserves who are free agents: Willie Harris, Adam Kennedy and Kevin Mench.

Kennedy and Mench are not expected to return, but Harris is an interesting case. Harris has made it known for weeks that he wants to stay with the Nationals because of his great relationship with Rizzo and the Lerner family.

Harris was a valuable player off the bench, driving in 32 runs in 2010. He also can play every position except for pitcher, catcher and first base.

The Nationals have not had serious discussions with Harris' agent, Daryl Buford.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.