While the Nationals front office awaits approval from ownership to make any strong big-name additions, they took a step in strengthening their bench. The Nationals announced infielder Stephen Drew and the team have agreed on terms of a new deal.
With Danny Espinosa traded to the Angels, the Nationals needed a utility player such as Drew to back up their infield consisting of Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy, and Anthony Rendon.
Drew, 33, signed with the Nationals in 2016 after a disappointing two-year stint with the New York Yankees — hitting .187/.257/.352. He thrived in his backup role, appearing in 70 games for the Nationals last season. His versatility was a luxury for Nats’ manager Dusty Baker.
Drew split his appearances at second and third base as well as shortstop. He hit .266 at the plate and had a .339 on-base percentage — both were his best since 2010. He added three pinch-hit home runs in 28 plate appearances and finished the season with a career-high .524 slugging percentage.
His season was interrupted as he battled through dizziness described as a “vertigo-like symptoms” that forced him to miss all of August as well as a portion of July.
Back healthy, Drew is a necessary add for the Nationals. If there are any injuries or sluggish spurts by the struggling Zimmerman, Drew is capable of filling as an everyday player. Drew can slide in at second while Murphy shifts to first base. It’s clear the Nationals understand his value as they were interested in bringing him back from the start of free agency.
Back in December, his agent, Scott Boras, hinted Drew was receiving offers from teams wanting him to play a more prominent role as a set every day starter. It’s unclear if Drew was fielding offers from other teams to start or it was a negotiation tactic from Boras. Nonetheless, the Nationals depth that they were yearning for. Now they can focus, upon receiving the green light from ownership, on roster needs such as reliever and possibly catcher.