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Nationals Sign Jesse Winker To Minor League Deal

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The Nationals have signed Jesse Winker to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, reports Andrew Golden of The Washington Post. Winker is represented by Excel Sports Management.

Winker, 30, is not too far removed from being one of the better hitters in the league but he’s fallen on hard times recently as injuries have seemingly held him back. With the Reds from 2017 to 2021, he walked in 12% of his plate appearances while only going down on strikes 16.5% of the time. His .288/.385/.504 slash line in that time translates to a wRC+ of 132, indicating he was 32% better than league average in that five-year stretch. Among players with at least 1500 plate appearances over those years, only 24 had a higher wRC+.

The left-handed hitter has fallen on harder times over the past couple seasons. Cincinnati traded Winker to the Mariners going into 2022. He slumped to a .219/.344/.344 line over 547 plate appearances. Seattle flipped him to Milwaukee last winter in a challenge trade that brought in Kolten Wong. The deal didn’t work for either team. Wong struggled badly enough that Seattle released him midseason.

Winker held his spot on the Milwaukee roster all year but didn’t fare much better. He ran a career-worst .199/.320/.247 line with only one home run in 197 plate appearances. He didn’t appear in the majors again after being placed on the injured list with back spasms in late July.

Washington doesn’t have a clear option at designated hitter, making this a decent landing spot for Winker on a rebound deal. The Nats signed Joey Gallo to join Lane Thomas in the corner outfield. Stone Garrett looks like a solid right-handed complementary bat, while Winker could push for a role against righty pitching.



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