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Nationals add Nate McLouth on two-year deal to provide insurance in outfield

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

The New York Yankees weren’t the only AL East team dealing with multiple defections on Friday. The Baltimore Orioles also lost a pair of their own free agents as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports outfielder Nate McLouth agreed to a two-year, $10.75 million deal with the Washington Nationals. During the signing frenzy earlier on Friday, right-hander Scott Feldman and the Texas Rangers agreed on a three-year, $30 million contract, which we discussed here.

Focusing on McLouth, it won't be a long trip from Baltimore, but once he arrives in Washington he'll be joining a crowded outfield that already includes Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Denard Span. It's pretty much cut and dry the 32-year-old veteran will serve as the Nationals fourth outfielder, and that it will take an injury to crack the lineup on a consistent basis. That may not be an ideal role for a free agent that logged nearly 600 plates appearances last season, but the money to play the role proved too great to pass up.

The value for Washington, of course, is that McLouth is capable of backing up all three outfield positions and gives them protection in case Harper's knee flares up or another injury pops up among their starters. In 2013, the Nationals were not fully prepared to deal with Harper's multiple ailments and missed games, as they were forced to turn to Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore as replacements. The left-handed swinging McLouth provides a definite upgrade, which is supported by his .272/.342/.411 slash line against right-handed pitching last season. Those numbers also indicate he'll be a worthwhile pinch-hit option against the NL's best right-hander relievers.

His career best 30 stolen bases in 2013 highlight his value as a baserunner as well.

In short, McLouth fits the description of a fourth outfielder to a T and seems like an especially good fit for a Washington team that hopes to rebound from a very disappointing 2013.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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