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Nationals sign veteran infielder Dee Strange-Gordon to minor league deal

Dee Strange-Gordon last played for the Pittsburgh Pirates' Class AAA affiliate this summer. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

The Washington Nationals and veteran infielder Dee Strange-Gordon have agreed to terms on a minor league contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, giving the club another experienced depth option.

A two-time all-star, Strange-Gordon edged Bryce Harper for the 2015 National League batting title, that year becoming the first player to lead the NL in batting average (.333) and stolen bases (58) in the same season since Jackie Robinson in 1949.

Strange-Gordon most recently signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the last of four National League stops as he bounced from team to team on minor league deals, never making a major league appearance in 2021. He signed a minor league contract with Pittsburgh in July, sporting a .661 on base slugging percentage in 16 appearances with their Class AAA affiliate in Indianapolis before his release the following month. His last major league appearances came in 2020, when he registered a .200 batting average and .268 on-base percentage in 33 games with the Seattle Mariners.

Strange-Gordon could officially sign a deal with the Nationals during Major League Baseball’s lockout because it is a minor league contract. Otherwise, there is a freeze on transactions involving 40-man roster players.

Nationals select four players in the minor league Rule 5 draft

Just before the work stoppage began earlier this month, Washington added second baseman César Hernandez on a one-year, $4 million major league deal, meaning Hernandez will almost certainly be on the eventual Opening Day roster. Strange-Gordon, on the other hand, is expected to compete for a spot in spring training.

The Nationals were one of the least active teams before the lockout began, signing Hernández and claiming two fringe players (Lucius Fox and Francisco Pérez) off waivers. The team added Donovan Casey and Evan Lee to their 40-man roster to protect them from being selected in a Rule 5 draft that was originally scheduled for Dec. 9.