The Nationals announced their coaching staff for the 2024 season on Friday, confirming their previously reported hiring of bench coach Miguel Cairo and also revealing that former big leaguers Gerardo Parra and Chris Johnson will be on manager Davey Martinez’s staff next year. Parra, who played a key role with the Nationals in their World Series Championship 2019 season, will be the team’s first base coach. Johnson, who spent the 2023 season as an assistant hitting coach with the White Sox, will hold the same role in Washington.
Parra, 36, spent parts of a dozen seasons in the big leagues between the D-backs, Rockies, Nats, Brewers, Giants and Orioles in addition to one season with Japan’s Yomiuri Giants in 2020. He spent half the 2019 season with the Nats but played a significant role in their Cinderella run to a World Series title, operating as a key bench piece for Martinez and endearing himself both to the fanbase and in the clubhouse as a veteran leader. Parra famously co-opted “Baby Shark” as his walkup music and as a celebration/rallying cry for the Nats that year. He returned for a second stint with the Nats in ’21 before calling it quits as a player and joining the team’s front office as a special assistant.
Johnson, 39, retired as a player after the 2019 season. He spent parts of eight years in the Majors between Houston, Atlanta, Arizona, Cleveland and Miami, batting a combined .275/.313/.404 with 63 homers in just shy of 3000 plate appearances. His last contract was a minor league deal with the White Sox, who hired him as their Triple-A hitting coach prior to the 2021 season. He served in that role until joining the big league staff this past season. The Sox opted not to bring Johnson back for the 2024 campaign, with Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times writing at season’s end that the team’s hitters were “torn between multiple hitting voices” on the team’s coaching staff. Presumably, Johnson’s philosophies better align with those of Coles — the veteran hitting coach who’ll be entering his third season with the Nationals.
Returning to the Nats’ staff in 2024 will be hitting coach Darnell Coles, pitching coach Jim Hickey, catching coach Henry Blanco and bullpen coach Ricky Bones. Ricky Gutierrez, who served as the team’s run prevention coordinator in 2023, will be the club’s new third base coach.