Updated, 3:45 p.m.
The Nationals remain interested in free agent outfielder Gerardo Parra, though how interested is not clear. He appears to be one of several options the team is considering.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo was the Diamondbacks’ scouting director when Parra was signed out of his native Venezuela in 2004. The Nationals were interested in trading for Parra when he was with the Brewers in 2015 but team ownership didn’t want a significant payroll increase during the season. The Orioles landed Parra instead.
Parra isn’t a perfect fit but he could help in a few ways. His career .326 on-base percentage isn’t ideal for the leadoff spot, but he hits left-handed with some power. Recent Defensive metrics rate Parra poorly, but the former two-time Gold Glove award winner is still capable of playing all three outfield positions thanks to his routes and arm strength, and could even handle center field for short periods of time.
The Nationals’ intentions this offseason have been clear: to better prepare for any outfield injuries — especially to Jayson Werth. They aren’t quite sure what they will get from Michael A. Taylor, who showed power and defensive prowess as a rookie but struck out a lot. The Nationals wanted a capable outfield option, so they pursued Ben Zobrist, who could have played left field in case of injuries, or Jason Heyward, who like Zobrist chose the Cubs.
The outfield market has been slow to take form. After Heyward signed in December, there has been a lull until Wednesday, when Alex Gordon reportedly agreed on a four-year, $72-million deal to return to Kansas City. That leaves Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton as the next best options, followed by Dexter Fowler, Denard Span and others. The Nationals have also explored the trade market, including the Rockies’ surplus of outfielders.
>>> One speculative option for the Nationals if they chose to simply add outfield depth: Shane Victorino. The 35-year-old has endured two down seasons — .246 with three home runs in only 101 games in that span — because of injuries. He even stopped switch-hitting and hit only right-handed because of injuries. But he is healthy again, back to switch hitting and would be an inexpensive option. He has primarily played right field but fits in left and can handle center in a pinch.
Victorino was a key cog on Boston’s 2013 World Series title team, hitting .294 with 15 home runs and Gold Glove defense. He also won a ring in 2008 with the Phillies alongside Werth. Victorino also knows Bryce Harper well; the Las Vegas residents have worked out together in the past and are friends, too.
>>> The Nationals have considered potential upgrades at catcher this offseason. But there is an obvious caveat, as Rizzo said earlier this offseason: it is not an easy position to upgrade. They liked Matt Wieters some but he accepted the Baltimore’s $15.8 million earlier this season so he won’t be a free agent until after 2016.
The Nationals also really like Jonathan Lucroy but he is a Brewers leader on the field and off it so it is hard to envision Milwaukee, even as they rebuild, parting with him. He is the type of player to build around. Lucroy is 29, is coming off a down year with injuries but is still one of the best catchers in baseball at the plate and behind it. He also has a team-friendly deal: he is owed $4 million in 2016 and $5.25 million in 2017.
>>> Daniel Murphy, who agreed to a three-year, $37.5-million deal with the Nationals on Christmas Eve pending a physical after the holidays, is finally expected to have that physical and news conference this week. Murphy, known more for his bat than glove, is slated to play second base for the Nationals, but can also handle first and third, and some left.
Actually, Murphy’s deal and Stephen Drew’s deal have since been announced. Murphy will be introduced at a press conference on Thursday.