JUPITER, Fla. -- The Nationals made a trade with one of their division rivals on Monday afternoon, acquiring outfielder Matt den Dekker from the Mets in exchange for reliever Jerry Blevins.
den Dekker can play all three outfield positions, and the Nats are seeking depth in the outfield because of the injuries to center fielder Denard Span and left fielder Jayson Werth.
"He fits in a lot of ways," Nationals manager Matt Williams said about den Dekker. "He has speed, he has a little bit of power. He gives us a lot of options in that regard. The Mets needed a left-handed pitcher, and den Dekker gives us a lot of tools that he brings to the table."
Last year, den Dekker hit .250 with seven RBIs in 53 games for the Mets. The acquisition of den Dekker could impact Tony Gwynn Jr. and Clint Robinson, both of whom have been productive at the plate. General manager Mike Rizzo didn't reveal his plans for those two players. All he did was praise den Dekker.
"His skill set is important to us. He runs real well. He can play plus defense at all three spots. He gives us another defender," Rizzo said. "We like his left-handed bat. We've seen him play a lot in the last couple of seasons. We feel he has a skill set that fits for us this year and beyond."
den Dekker was surprised when he heard about the trade.
"It hasn't set in yet and it will probably take a little while to set in," he said. "I've had some great times with these guys in here, made some really good friends, but it's part of the game and part of the business. Not that I didn't think it would ever happen, but when it actually does happen, it's a weird feeling. I'm excited for it."
Blevins went 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA last year for the Nationals. The left-hander allowed nine hits and nine runs (eight earned) over eight innings in Spring Training. The Mets had been looking for a reliever since the offseason.
"In our case, we actually think [the Nationals are] getting a pretty good player from us who could help them early on in the situation they've got with some injuries," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "So I think they're getting a good player from us, and a guy who has potential to help them and hurt us. And the same is true with Blevins coming on with us."
With Blevins gone, the Nationals have to figure out who will join Matt Thornton as part of the lefty relief corps. Rich Hill is likely the leading candidate to be in the bullpen. Hill, who signed a Minor League deal, is having a solid spring, allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Xavier Cedeno has been with the Nationals since 2013, but he hasn't provided consistent production. There are days when he has been unhittable and other days when he is hit hard. During the Nationals' 6-2 loss on Monday, for example, Cedeno allowed two runs in one inning.