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Washington Nationals sign Gerardo Parra to a minor league deal: Parra Shark returns to D.C.

Will Gerardo Parra earn a spot on the Nationals’ 2021 bench and will he provide the spark he did for the 2019 champs?

MLB: SEP 24 Phillies at Nationals Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Davey Martinez knew what kind of player the Washington Nationals were getting when he advocated for the club picking up Gerardo Parra in mid-2019, after the veteran outfielder was released by the San Francisco Giants.

“When we picked him up, I knew what kind of guy he was,” Martinez explained to reporters later that season, as the Nationals charged to the World Series. “I talked to [Bullpen Coach] Henry [Blanco]. Henry played with him. Henry was his teammate, Blanco, and I told him, I said, ‘Look, we’re going to get Parra. I know what kind of clubhouse guy he is. Tell me what you think?’

“‘He says, ‘You want him.’ I said, he’s a heck of a player, but he’ll keep that clubhouse loose. I said, ‘Well, we’re going to get him, and I need him.’”

“Yeah, we needed him at that point,” Martinez continued. “He’s just another veteran guy, a left-handed bat, can play first, outfield positions. But what he’s meant to this team outside of just — regardless of playing, what he’s done in that clubhouse has really changed the way these guys go about their business. I mean, it was business. There wasn’t a whole lot of — he made it fun for this team.”

Parra, with his ebullient personality, dugout dance parties, and ubiquitous ‘Baby Shark’ walk-up song, was one of the key personalities on that championship roster, whose value was far greater than what production he provided at the plate (.250/.300/.447, 11 doubles, eight home runs in 89 G, and 204 PAs in the regular season; 1 for 6 in just seven games for the Nationals that postseason) on the way to the team’s World Series win.

Parra signed on with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball the following winter, and he put up a .267/.305/.384 line with three doubles and four home runs as a Giant in 2020, before, reportedly, returning to Washington on a minor league deal last night.

The 11-year MLB veteran will try to earn a spot in the nation’s capital again in Spring Training 2021, which starts up later this month, barring any changes to the current plans.

Will Parra win a spot on the Nationals’ bench?

Martinez talked last winter about the impact Parra had on his club after joining the Nationals in the summer of 2019.

“There was a point in time where he was struggling real bad,” the manager explained. “He was like 2 for 30, and it was kind of — everything was kind of down a little bit.

“I didn’t feel that energy, and I brought him in the office, and I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, you know, I’m not hitting. I’m not helping the team.’”

“I go, ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘I don’t care if you’re 2 for 100, your job is to bring the energy every single day. That’s who you are.’”

“I said, you play that music loud,” Martinez continued.

“You pump up the guys. I said, ‘You’re the guy that brings that energy every day,’ and he just looked at me, and he goes, ‘You’re right.’

“He said, ‘I’m not doing my job. I said, ‘Well, go do your job.’”

“Needless to say, after that, he started hitting again, and he came back to my office a few days later, and he goes, ‘Hey, thank you. I didn’t realize that I need to have fun too, not worry about...’ — I said, yeah, ‘Hey, bring it every day. I told you, for me, 0 for 4s, 0 for 5s don’t really bother me. It’s what you bring on and off the field that I care about,’ and he’s that guy.

“Those guys up there, every one of his teammates love him, love him. All the fans love him. He’s just that guy. He’s the Parra Shark.”

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