The 31-year-old McFarland spent last season as a member of the Athletics, with whom he logged a 4.35 ERA/4.56 SIERA in 20 2/3 innings. McFarland didn’t have control problems, as he issued walks to just 5.4 percent of batters, but he struck out a mere 9.8 percent of hitters. That’s not atypical for McFarland, who has combined for a 13.6 percent strikeout rate and a 7.6 percent walk rate in 401 innings divided among the Orioles, Diamondbacks and A’s. He owns a 4.08 ERA/3.83 SIERA since his career started in 2013, and has thrown 50-plus innings in five seasons.
McFarland will now compete for a spot in the Washington bullpen, which lost fellow lefty Sean Doolittle to the Reds in free agency. Before signing McFarland, though, the Nationals added southpaw Brad Hand on a guaranteed contract and LHP Luis Avilan on a minor league pact. It’s worth noting that McFarland has been much better versus lefties (.295 weighted on-base average) than righties (.352).