VIERA, Fla. -- Outfielder Jason Michaels, released by the Nationals on Thursday, will return to the organization and report to Class AAA Syracuse. Infielder Andres Blanco, however, has signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies.
The Nationals were hoping both Michaels and Blanco would stay with the organization following their releases, but each veteran had an opt-out clause in their contract that allowed them to sign with another team.
Blanco wound up finding a better opportunity with the Phillies, who are in need of infield depth after seeing several players succumb to injury (including starter Chase Utley and projected backup Michael Martinez) this spring. The 27-year-old had only two hits in 32 Grapefruit League at-bats.
Michaels, 35, hit .220 (9-for-41) in 20 games this spring. An 11-year veteran with the Phillies, Indians, Pirates and Astros, he'll join the roster at Syracuse and be asked to serve as a mentor to Bryce Harper. The two had adjacent lockers in big-league camp this spring, a request made by general manager Mike Rizzo.