The Nationals were looking to add a left-handed bat and some depth for the outfield this winter, and the 32-year-old former outfielder is a "perfect fit" thanks to his versatility, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. McLouth has played all three outfield positions in his nine-year career. However, as a member of the Orioles over the past two seasons, he saw only 26 innings in center. Defensively he has been below average at at all three positions in that time. Rosenthal notes that while McLouth will be the team's fourth outfielder, he is expected to see "significant at-bats."
McLouth is probably best suited for a back-up or platoon role at this point in his career. He hit just below average last year overall, with a .258/.329/.399 batting line, but he was much more effective when facing righties. The ex-Oriole hit .272/.342/.411 in 416 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers and just .209/.283/.357 in his 115 appearances against lefties in 2013. Washington could use McLouth to occasionally spell the right-handed-hitting Jayson Werth against tough righties and to serve as a pinch-hitter and emergency option in the outfield.
The Nationals struggled to find effective bench players in 2013. Of their eight starting position players, only two posted below-average OPS+ numbers, but no other player with at least 50 plate appearances hit better than 31 percent below league average by OPS+. McLouth should represent a significant upgrade in his new supporting role.