The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with veteran outfielder Chris Heisey on Saturday. Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Heisey, 31, 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 enters the 2017 season as Major League Baseball's all-time leader in slugging percentage as a pinch-hitter (.563), while his 14 career pinch-hit home runs are the most among active players and rank sixth all-time among major league players.
In his first season with the Nationals, Heisey was tied for fourth in Major League Baseball with three pinch-hit home runs, tying a single-season Nationals record (2005-present). Five of his seven hits as a pinch-hitter went for extra bases (two doubles, three home runs).
Heisey, who also clubbed the first pinch-hit postseason home run in franchise history (Nationals/Expos), led a group of Nationals pinch-hitters that finished third in the major leagues with 12 pinch-hit home runs, and ranked third in the National League in slugging percentage (.447). The 12 pinch-hit home runs hit by Washington were the most in franchise history (Nationals/Expos).
In 83 games (21 starts), Heisey hit .216 (30-for-139) with three doubles, one triple, nine home runs, 17 RBIs, 13 walks and 18 runs scored for the Nationals in 2016. He was the only player in Major League Baseball to hit at least nine home runs in fewer than 140 at bats in 2016. Heisey's versatility brought great value to the Nationals bench, allowing Baker to use him in left field (25 games), right field (16 games), center field (3 games) and at designated hitter (1 game).
On May 24 vs. Minnesota, Heisey propelled the Nationals to a 6-5 win with his first career walk-off home run, a solo shot in the 16th inning off Michael Tonkin. That home run ended the longest regular season game by time (5:56) in Nationals history (2005-present).
In seven major league seasons, Heisey has hit .242 with 66 doubles, 11 triples, 61 home runs, 173 RBIs, 105 walks and 210 runs scored. In 204 career pinch-hit appearances, Heisey has hit .257 (47-for-183) with a .314 on-base percentage and a .563 slugging percentage (10 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs), while recording 40 RBIs and 14 walks.
With the signing of Heisey, the Nationals now have 37 players on their 40-man roster.