The Nationals announced they’ve signed outfielder Stone Garrett to a big league contract. In conjunction with the signing of corner infielder Jeimer Candelario to a one-year deal, Washington’s 40-man roster is now full.
Garrett, who recently turned 27, is a former eighth-round draftee of the Marlins. He played in the Miami farm system for six-plus years but didn’t crack the big league roster. After reaching minor league free agency heading into the 2021 season, Garrett latched on with the D-Backs via minor league contract. He spent most of that season in Double-A, then moved to Triple-A for the bulk of the 2022 campaign.
Over 103 games and 440 plate appearances there, Garrett popped 28 home runs and posted a .275/.332/.568 line. The extreme hitter-friendly nature of the Pacific Coast League (and the D-Backs’ affiliate in Reno, in particular) surely helped, but it was an impressive enough showing to lead the front office to give Garrett a big league look late in the season. They selected his contract in mid-August, and he went on to suit up 27 times at the MLB level.
Garrett carried over some of his power production against big league arms. He connected on four longballs and eight doubles in just 84 trips to the dish. That resulted in an excellent .539 slugging output. However, he also struck out 27 times while drawing just a trio of walks. The righty-hitting Garrett was also leveraged heavily for favorable platoon match-ups, with 51 of his plate appearances coming against left-handed pitching. Arizona clearly wasn’t confident in his ability to sustain above-average offensive production over a larger sample, and they took him off the 40-man roster at the end of the year.
While that strong first month wasn’t enough to earn a longer look in the desert, it apparently caught the attention of the Washington front office. They’ll promise Garrett an immediate 40-man roster spot. If he holds that all winter, he’ll get an opportunity to compete for an MLB job in Spring Training.
While Garrett played some center field early in his career, he’s been limited to the corners or designated hitter for the past few seasons. He’s capable of playing either corner outfield spot and could presumably be an option at first base, but he played exclusively left field in his limited MLB time with Arizona. Lane Thomas looks to have the inside track on one outfield spot in Washington, but he’s a potential center fielder. The rest of Washington’s upper level outfielders — Víctor Robles, Alex Call and Josh Palacios — are unproven and/or better suited for depth roles. That’s also true of Garrett, although he adds a right-handed bat with some power to the mix.
Signing Garrett to a major league contract doesn’t mean the Nationals are obligated to carry him on the MLB roster. He still has a full slate of minor league option years, so the Nats can keep him in Triple-A Rochester for the foreseeable future as upper level depth. Rather, the MLB deal and immediate 40-man spot presumably served to differentiate the Nats from other teams that were willing to offer him a minor league deal with an invitation to big league Spring Training. Garrett is still nowhere near even the one-year service threshold, so he’d be controllable through at least the 2028 season if he establishes a lasting role in D.C.
Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reported the Nationals and Garrett had agreed to a contract shortly before the team announcement.