Washington Nationals Free Agent Profile: Gerardo Parra


With Denard Span leaving for free agency, could the Nats look to Gerardo Parra to help Michael Taylor out in the outfield? 

The Washington Nationals will likely lose starting center fielder Denard Span to free agency, who has manned the position for the Nats ever since they traded for him prior to the 2013 season. 24-year old Michael Taylor, who is coming off a quietly productive rookie campaign, looks poised to take over the job in 2016. However, there is some doubt around the league as to whether or not Taylor is ready to become a full-time starter for a team with playoff aspirations, causing President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo to consider other options outside the organization to fill the void left in Span’s absence.

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One of these such options is two-time Gold Glover Gerardo Parra, who can provide plus defense at all three outfield positions while maintaining solid production at the plate. Parra split the season with the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles after the O’s acquired the 28-year old outfielder after being traded at the non-waiver July 31 trade deadline for the second consecutive season. While he would not hit as many home runs or steal as many bases as the in-house Taylor, Parra would certainly hit for a higher average and strike out at a much lower clip while playing better defense.

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Gerardo Parra was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as an amateur free agent in 2004 and eventually made his major league debut with the team five years later. He would remain with the Dbacks until 2014, when he was traded to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. He would stay with the Brewers for exactly a year, when he was traded again, this time to Baltimore. He now hit free agency for the first time in his career, likely commanding a deal in the three-year, $25 million range.

Last season, the Venezuela-native posted a combined .291/.328/.452 slash line between the two teams, finishing the year with a career-high 14 home runs, 14 stolen bases, 83 runs scored, and 92 strikeouts in 155 games played. Comparatively, Michael Taylor hit .229/.282/.358 with 14 homers, 16 stolen bases, 49 runs, and 158 strikeouts in 138 games. While Taylor certainly has offensive upside as such a young player, Parra is the more dependable candidate to man the position.

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The Nats could go the entire offseason without signing any premiere free agents (outside of possibly a few bullpen arms) and still have a roster fully capable of taking home an NL East crown in 2016. However, there is plenty of payroll to be dished out before arbitration hearings begin, and there are plenty of players that could fit the bill. Gerardo Parra would make the team better next season, and with all the pressure to win amidst Bryce Harper’s record-setting season, the time may be now to make a splash.