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Nationals sign OF Parra, send Stevenson to IL

@JamalCollier
May 9, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The Nationals officially signed Gerardo Parra on Thursday, adding a left-handed bat off the bench and outfielder who can play all three positions to a team in search of healthy position players to contribute to their injured-ravaged lineup. Parra, who was designated for assignment by the Giants

LOS ANGELES -- The Nationals officially signed Gerardo Parra on Thursday, adding a left-handed bat off the bench and outfielder who can play all three positions to a team in search of healthy position players to contribute to their injured-ravaged lineup.

Parra, who was designated for assignment by the Giants on Friday, joined the team in Los Angeles prior to Thursday’s series opener against the Dodgers. Andrew Stevenson was placed on the injured list (retroactive to May 7) with back spasms to make room for Parra and designated right-hander Jimmy Cordero for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster.

Parra joins Washington after struggling at the plate in San Francisco, compiling a 52 OPS+ in 97 plate appearances, but he posted 0.5 Wins Above Replacement, thanks to his contributions on defense. His mantra Thursday echoed the message the Nationals will carry with them the rest of the season as they aim to overcome their own dreadful beginning of the season.

“It’s not how you start,” Parra said. “It’s how you finish the season. We have a great team, we have a great opportunity.”

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that, as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

The Nationals had been connected to Parra, who turned 32 last week, on several occasions in the past few seasons before finally signing him after he was cut by the Giants. The Nats believe they are striking out too often and Parra will help make more contact (he has never had a strikeout percentage higher than 20 percent), but more contact for Parra has not translated into production at the plate.

Washington needs a fourth outfielder at the moment with Stevenson sidelined, but Juan Soto is due back from the injured list Saturday after recovering from back spasms. It is unclear whether Washington will carry Parra as a fifth outfielder beyond that point, with Parra joining Soto, Adam Eaton, Victor Robles and Michael A. Taylor. Parra could still help improve a bench weakened by the number of players either thrust into everyday action, such as Howie Kendrick, or sidelined by injuries, such as Stevenson and Matt Adams.

Parra -- a two-time Gold Glove winner in 2011 and ’13 -- should help improve the Nationals' outfield defense when he gets into the lineup. Manager Dave Martinez said they still view him as a valuable option against right-handers. In his career, Parra owns a .758 OPS against righties compared to a .617 OPS against lefties. Last season, those splits were even more drastic at .776 against righties and .510 against left-handers.

“I like his style, I like the way he plays,” Martinez said. “He plays real hard and he knows how to play the game.”

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.