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02/02/2006 3:42 PM ET
Nationals agree to terms on contracts with three players
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The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with free-agent right-handed pitcher Felix Rodriguez on a 2006 contact. The club also agreed to terms with shortstop Royce Clayton and outfielder George Lombard on non-guaranteed minor-league contacts for the 2006 season that included Spring Training invitations. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcements.

Clayton joins the Nationals after hitting .270 with 28 doubles, two home runs, 44 RBI and 13 stolen bases (in 15 attempts) last year in his only season with Arizona. He also hit .300 with runners in scoring position. However, Clayton's defense-he made only 11 errors in 141 games at shortstop (.982 fielding percentage, fifth among all MLB shortstops)­-was perhaps his greatest contribution to a Diamondbacks club that won 77 games, or 26 more than the season prior.

The 36 year-old Clayton is a career .258 hitter with 319 doubles, 54 triples, 107 home runs and 671 RBI in 1894 games spanning 15 big league seasons with seven clubs. Clayton, a former National League All Star, ranks second among active shortstops in games (1855) and double plays turned (1140), trailing only Omar Vizquel in both categories.

Rodriguez, 33, returns to the National League after battling a left-knee ailment and going 0-0 with three holds and a 5.01 ERA last season with New York (NL). Long viewed as one of baseball's top eighth-inning middle relievers, Rodriguez tallied 125 holds and a 2.92 ERA in five seasons from 2000-04. In 2001, he even garnered a few MVP votes after going 9-1 with 32 holds and a 1.47 ERA in 80 appearances for San Francisco.

Rodriguez is 37-25 with 131 holds, 11 saves and a 3.51 ERA during his 10-year big league career. Rodriguez, who has suffered only 23 blown saves in 532 career regular-season appearances, is also a veteran to October baseball, having posted a 3.32 ERA in 19 post-season contests.

Lombard joins the Nationals after hitting .262 with 28 doubles, 20 home runs, 65 RBI and 23 stolen bases for Pawtucket of the Triple-A International League last season.

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