This was supposed to be Andrew Stevenson’s chance to shine. The former second round draft pick was installed as the fourth outfielder after a smoking hot end to the 2020 season, and was going to get every opportunity possible to show he belongs in the big leagues for good. Stephenson will be the fourth outfielder, however, Parra is going to steal playing time and at-bats from him. If Parra hits, it’s good for the team, bad for Stevenson. The more Parra plays, the more Stevenson is reduced to a pinch runner/defensive replacement for Kyle Schwarber.
Aside from Stevenson, Yadiel Hernandez is the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster who is not projected to be in the starting lineup. That is, until Gerardo Parra has his contract purchased and bumps Hernandez down a notch on the depth chart. Hernandez is projected to begin the season at Triple-A Rochester. He was one injury away from getting the call to the big leagues. Now he is one injury and Gerardo Parra away from getting a second change at the majors.
All the other free agent outfielders
As of the beginning of the week, there were still over 140 free agents looking for jobs. There are dozens of outfielders who are still in the unemployment line. Most of which probably could not be had for $1M, yet are younger or have a better resume than Parra. The Nationals have given Parra a minor league contract, though for all intents and purposes I believe he will be on the 26-man roster. Where I don’t think that roster spot would have gone to an outfielder had the Nationals not signed Parra, the spot was there for the taking by another free agent. Parra may have found another team to sign a minor league contract with, though not one with a sentimental connection or advanced track to the majors.
Nationals current non-roster invitees
A handful of non-roster invitees will descend upon the spring training complex with hopes of earning a spot on the big club. The 40-man roster currently sits at 39 for the Nationals so barring a trade or a DFA, only one NRI will make the team. Enter Gerardo Parra.