Nationals, OF Joey Gallo agree to one-year deal

Outfielder Joey Gallo and the Washington Nationals are in agreement on a one-year, $5 million contract, sources told ESPN, filling an outfield slot with the rebuilding team as Gallo looks to regain full-time at-bats.

Gallo, 30, hit .177/.301/.440 in a limited role with the Minnesota Twins last year. Though he hit 21 home runs in 332 plate appearances, he struck out 42.8% of the time, the highest single-season mark ever for a player with at least 300 plate appearances.

Strikeouts have eaten into Gallo’s batting average, which last ended above .200 in the 2019 season. While his 14.5% walk rate ranked 13th among players with 300-plus plate appearances last season, a low average on balls in play has kept him from reaching the Mendoza Line for the past four years.

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Washington nevertheless is banking on Gallo’s power and patience — and hoping his glove improves to the above-average standard he had sustained until regression last season.

With Lane Thomas locking down the right-field job, Gallo is likely to wind up in left, though he has dabbled in center field as well.

Over his nine-year career, Gallo has hit .197/.323/.466 with 198 home runs and 426 RBIs in 3,143 plate appearances.

With the deal, first reported by The Washington Post, the Nationals more than doubled their previous free agent spending. They had agreed on one-year deals with right-handed reliever Dylan Floro ($2.25 million) and utility man Nick Senzel ($2 million). Washington is in the midst of a yearslong overhaul, going 71-91 last season and concluding in last in the ultra-competitive National League East.

The Nationals could see an infusion of outfield talent from their farm system this season, with the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, Dylan Crews, and top prospect James Wood both on the cusp of debuting.

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