The Washington Nationals have been decimated by injuries this season. However, Gerardo Parra is a poor choice for an injury replacement.
The move comes in the wake of the Nationals’ previous fourth outfielder, Andrew Stevenson, hitting the 10-day Injured List with back spasms.
The idea to sign a free agent is a good one. The decision to sign Parra is bewildering.
The main reason for believing this is straightforward: Parra is not a good baseball player.
From 2016-2018, Parra played for the Colorado Rockies, meaning half of his at-bats came in Coors Field, the best ballpark for hitting a baseball on planet Earth.
Despite this, Parra was still a below average hitter. At home during those three years, Parra recorded a .727 OPS.
The stat wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) neutralizes park factors, putting all batters on an even scale. A “100” wRC+ is considered average. Parra’s 77 wRC+ during those three years means he created 23% fewer runs than the league average hitter.
As if that wasn’t reason enough to be skeptical, let’s look at what Parra accomplished this season with the San Francisco Giants. He had a wRC+ of 48 in 97 plate appearances and was designated for assignment last week.
Need I say more?
This signing makes little sense given the other available options on the free agent market.
Span is a Nationals fan favorite, he is likely not seeking much money, and by all accounts is a slightly above average Major League hitter. He is the perfect fit for the Nats.
If for whatever reason Span is not an option, the Nats can turn to Matt Holiday. Holiday is a poor defender, but still an average MLB hitter. THE BAT projection system on FanGraphs.com would project Holiday for a wRC+ of 102 if he joined a team for the rest of the season.
Even Jose Bautista is currently a free agent and a better option than Parra. He projects as an average hitter and played left field, right field, and third base last season.
The point is that there are far better options than Parra, yet he is on the roster. Soto and Stevenson need to get healthy quickly as Parra is more likely to hurt the Nationals than help them.