LOS ANGELES — There was a new face in the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium on Thursday after the Washington Nationals officially signed veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra to a one-year deal.
Parra, 32, was immediately added to the 25-man roster, and the Nationals made two corresponding moves to make room for him. Outfielder Andrew Stevenson went to the 10-day injured list with back spasms, retroactive to May 7. The team also designated reliever Jimmy Cordero for assignment, which created space on the 40-man roster and leaves Cordero’s future with the Nationals unclear. Cordero, 26, debuted for the Nationals last season, and has a 6.00 ERA in 12 appearances at Class AAA Fresno this season.
Cordero became the second reliever designated so that a position player could join the 40-man roster, joining Austin Adams.
“He’s a great guy to have,” Manager Dave Martinez said of Parra before Thursday’s game. “He’s a great clubhouse guy, I’ve known him for a long time. He just gives us another veteran presence.”
Martinez did not put Parra in the lineup for the Nationals’ game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first of a four-game set. The Dodgers are starting left-hander Rich Hill, and Parra, in an 11-year career, has just a .244 average against left-handed pitching. But Martinez expects Parra to play some against righties and otherwise provide a presence as a left-handed pinch hitter and depth outfielder.
The signing comes just six days after Parra was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants and with the Nationals entering this series at 14-22 on the season. The Dodgers, meanwhile, entered the night with a major league-best 15-4 record at home and have been one of baseball’s best teams.
Washington’s lineup has been sapped by injuries — to Juan Soto, Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Matt Adams and, until this past Tuesday, Anthony Rendon — and Parra joins as needed insurance and experience for a banged-up roster. The Nationals are 1-5 on this trip, which finishes with these four games in Los Angeles, and have scored more than three runs just once in their past 10 games. But Parra hit just .198 with a .278 on-base percentage in 97 plate appearances with the Giants this year.
So he and the Nationals will keep searching for an offensive rhythm together.
“That’s baseball, man. That’s baseball,” Parra said. “I’ve played a lot of baseball, and this is the first year I’ve started like that. But for me, this is a new opportunity, I don’t think nothing about that. I’m happy. Like I said, that’s baseball, and baseball changes a lot. So we’ll see what happens this year.”
If something’s going to happen — for Parra and his new team — it has to happen fast. Martinez mentioned that, beyond playing all three outfield positions, Parra provides another option at first base. He took ground balls there during batting practice Thursday. With Zimmerman and Adams out, that spot has been occupied by a combination of Howie Kendrick, utility man Adrian Sanchez and rookie Jake Noll.
The Nationals should get healthier soon; Martinez feels that Soto is on track to return from the IL on Saturday. It is not clear how or whether Parra fits with the Nationals once they get closer to full strength. The 25-man roster has four outfielders in Parra, Adam Eaton, Victor Robles and Michael A. Taylor, and that number will increase whenever Soto is activated once he is recovered from back spasms. Stevenson was the odd outfielder out for most of this season until Soto’s injury.
If nothing else, Parra is a short-term Band-Aid.
“The biggest thing right now is to relax,” Parra said Thursday, speaking about his own struggles but he could have also been saying it for the franchise he is joining. “The baseball right now, it’s hard. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish the season.”
Adam Eaton, LF
Victor Robles, RF
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 1B
Brian Dozier, 2B
Yan Gomes, C
Wilmer Difo, SS
Michael A. Taylor, CF
Patrick Corbin, P
Kike Hernandez, CF
Justin Turner, 3B
Cody Bellinger, RF
David Freese, 1B
Max Muncy, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Chris Taylor, LF
Russell Martin, C
Rich Hill, P