ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick was first to report tonight that the Washington Nationals are bringing bench bat Chris Heisey back to the nation’s capital in 2017 on a 1-year/$1.4M deal.
Heisey, 31, put up a .216/.290/.446 line with three doubles and nine home runs in 83 games and 155 plate appearances off the Nationals’ bench this past season, with two of the doubles and three of the home runs in pinch hit appearances.
Heisey signed a minor league deal with Washington last winter that paid him $1.25M in the majors.
Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker talked late this season about the importance of building a solid bench to back up the everyday players, after Heisey hit his ninth home run in a late-season win over the Atlanta Braves.
“That’s what they’re here for,” Baker said. “I’ve always said you can’t win with just your regulars. You’ve got to give those other guys some opportunities to play. We feel very confident, especially for a short period of time that those guys can do the job.
“And I’ve always been taught that the lesser is equal to the greater and the circle is not complete unless you depend on everybody and everybody in that circle, so everybody is important.”
Heisey, in particular, Baker said, filled his role well throughout the season, coming through when he was called upon and remaining prepared for when he was needed.
“That’s his job,” Baker told reporters. “He knew that when he signed on for this and he’s been one of the best at it. He works on it in BP and I just, I mean when you’re putting this puzzle together, he was one of the pieces of the puzzle that from the right side has some power. And then from the left side we had [Clint] Robinson and we had [Stephen] Drew and Drew’s equal to Heisey in that department.”
Heisey was also able to help out defensively, filling in all around the outfield.
“That’s part of his value again,” Baker added. “Heisey, he can play the corners very well and he can play center for a short period of time.”
Baker will have to find spots and at bats for Heisey again in 2017:
Chris Heisey has agreed to a one-year, $1.4 million contact with the #Nationals. Deal also includes performance bonuses.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 12, 2016
Several sources have since confirmed the deal:
Chris Heisey has agreed to one-year deal with the Nats, pending a physical, according to people familiar with the situation.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) November 12, 2016