The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with veteran infielder Stephen Drew on Thursday. Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Drew, 33, returns to Washington for his second season with the Nationals after serving as a key member of Dusty Baker’s bench and a versatile defender during the 2016 season. He hit .266 (38-for-143) with 11 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 21 RBIs, 16 walks and 24 runs scored in 70 games in 2016. Drew posted a .524 slugging percentage, with 20 of his 38 hits going for extra bases. He appeared in games at second base (21 games/15 starts), third base (12 games/eight starts), shortstop (12 games/seven starts) and designated hitter (one game/one start).
Drew, along with Chris Heisey, ranked second in Major League Baseball and tied a Nationals club record (2005-pres.) with three pinch-hit home runs in 2016. He was a part of a group of Nationals pinch-hitters that finished third in the major leagues with 12 pinch-hit home runs, and ranked third in the NL in slugging percentage (.447). The 12 pinch-hit home runs hit by Washington were the most in franchise history (Nationals/Expos).
In one of the more impressive swings of the 2016 season, after missing multiple games due to illness, Drew summoned enough strength for a pinch-hit appearance on July 23 against the San Diego Padres and laced a walk-off triple that gave Washington a 3-2 win. The following day, he was placed on the disabled list with vertigo-like symptoms. He was reinstated on Sept. 7 and hit .275 (11-for-40) with three doubles, one homer, four RBIs, seven walks and 10 runs scored in his final 19 games of the season.
In 11 major league seasons, Drew is a career .252 hitter with 251 doubles, 63 triples, 122 home runs, 507 RBIs, 427 walks, and 556 runs scored. In 68 career pinch-hit appearances, Drew has hit .283 (17-for-60) with a .368 on-base percentage and a .617 slugging percentage (three doubles, one triple, five home runs) while recording 13 RBIs and seven walks.
With the signing of Drew, the Nationals now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.