Nationals Sign OF Nate McLouth to Two-Year Contract

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals bolstered their outfield depth on Thursday, announcing the signing of outfielder Nate McLouth to a two-year deal.

McLouth, who most recently played for the Baltimore Orioles, is a nine-year Major League veteran who has a career .250 average with a .334 on-base percentage and .418 slugging percentage. He registered the fourth double-digit homer effort of his career in 2013, hitting 12 home runs with 31 doubles in 146 games for the Orioles.

A left-handed-hitting option for Manager Matt Williams off the bench, McLouth also brings speed into the equation. He stole a career-high 30 bases in 2013 and he’s averaged 22 stolen bases per season over the course of his career.

“We felt that it was a good time to really invest in a player who could really help us off the bench, and is multi-faceted,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “This guy’s got some pop off the bench, he can play above-average defense at three outfield positions and he can steal you a base. He brings some speed and athleticism and some power off the bench. So that’s one aspect of it.

“The other aspect of it is if one of your main guys goes down, McLouth has been an everyday player for [the] last year, and with the combination of [Scott] Hairston from the right side and Nate from the left side, we feel that we’ve got ourselves a good platoon system in the event that one of our main three guys goes down.”

McLouth, 32, can play all three outfield positions, making him a versatile complement to Hairston. But he’s started more than twice as many games in center field (510) than in left and right field combined (248). He is also a .321 (9-for-28) career hitter in nine postseason games (Orioles in 2012, Braves in ’10).

In 2008, McLouth represented the Pirates in the All-Star Game and won a Rawlings Gold Glove. That same season, he led the National League with 46 doubles.

To make room on the 40-man roster for McLouth, the Nationals designated outfielder Corey Brown for assignment. Brown hit .254 (99-for-389) with 26 doubles, one triple, 19 home runs, 56 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 57 runs scored in 107 games for Triple-A Syracuse this season. He appeared in 14 September games for the Nationals, hitting .167 (2-for-12) with one double, one homer and one RBI.

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