The Nationals announced Friday that they’ve claimed outfielder Josh Palacios off waivers from the Blue Jays and optioned him to Triple-A Rochester. Washington freed a spot on the 40-man roster earlier this week when infielder Dee Strange-Gordon was placed on the COVID-19 injured list.
Palacios, 26, made his big league debut with the Jays in 2021 and went 7-for-35 (all singles) with three walks, a couple of hit-by-pitches and 11 strikeouts. The resulting .200/.293/.200 batting line obviously isn’t appealing, but the 2016 fourth-rounder has a better track record in the minors, where he’s slashed .287/.367/.402 in parts of six seasons.
Capable of playing all three outfield spots, Palacios draws praise in scouting reports for solid defense, above-average speed and good bat-to-ball skills. He’s never had much in the way of power, however, evidenced by a career-high of eight home runs back in 2018 — though it’s perhaps of note that he has already connected on a pair of round-trippers in just 24 Triple-A plate appearances so far in 2022. He’s not a burner on the basepaths but does have a pair of 15-steal seasons under his belt, and Palacios has fanned in under 20% of his minor league plate appearances while walking at a 10% clip.
The Nationals’ current outfield mix includes Lane Thomas, Victor Robles, Yadiel Hernandez, newly recalled Donovan Casey and, of course, superstar outfielder Juan Soto. Palacios could eventually get a look as a versatile fourth-outfield option, but for the time being he’ll provide some depth in the upper minors.