The Nationals have signed infielder Franklin Barreto to a minor league deal, according to Jon Heyman of The New York Post.
Barreto, 27 in February, was an international amateur signing of the Blue Jays but was traded to Oakland as part of the 2014 Josh Donaldson trade. A highly-touted prospect, Barreto was featured on Baseball America’s list of the top 100 youngsters in the game for four straight seasons beginning in 2015.
Unfortunately, Barreto has struggled as he’s reached higher levels of competition, particularly in terms of strikeouts. From 2017 to 2020, he got into 101 big league games but struck out in 42.2% of his plate appearances. For reference, this year’s league average was 22.4%, barely half of Barreto’s rate. Overall, he’s hit just .175/.207/.342.
Oakland moved on from him in 2020, trading him to the Angels for Tommy La Stella. He underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2021 and was outrighted at the end of the year. The Astros signed him to a minor league deal for 2022, but he hit just .162/.259/.274 in 73 Triple-A games while striking out 37.2% of the time.
It’s been a pretty rough stretch for Barreto, to say the least. That being said, there’s little harm in the Nats taking a look at him in Spring Training. They were the worst team in baseball in 2022 and aren’t likely to suddenly emerge as contenders in 2023, meaning they’re among the teams best suited to take fliers on faded prospect stars. Barreto is still young enough that he could take a step forward in his age-27 season and make good on his previous pedigree. If he does, the Nats can keep him around fairly cheaply for a few more years via arbitration since he has just over three years of MLB service time.
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