Jesse Winker's major league career has hit a new low. The former Cincinnati Reds All-Star was forced to sign a minor-league deal in order to reestablish his value. Unfortunately for Winker, that deal is with the rebuilding Washington Nationals.
The Nats are in a similar spot to where the Reds were in 2022; the year Winker was traded to the Seattle Mariners. After the long, drawn out collective bargining negotiations that spring, Winker and Eugenio Suárez were shipped to Seattle in exchange for Brandon Williamson, Connor Phillips, Jake Fraley, and Justin Dunn.
Winker never meshed with his new team in Sea-Town. After a tumultuous campaign in 2022, the Mariners traded Winker once again. This time, the former All-Star landed in Milwaukee. Injuries defined Winker's 2023 season, as they have throughout his career, and the 30-year-old had lingered on the free agent market all offseason.
Former Reds All-Star, Jesse Winker, signs MiLB deal with the Nats
Reds Country let out a collective groan in early-March of 2022 when Cincinnati shipped Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez to Seattle. But as it turns out, Nick Krall may have been playing chess while Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto was playing checkers.
While Suárez shined during his first season in Seattle, Winker hit just .219/.344/.344. This, a year after posting a .949 OPS, 143 OPS+, and representing the city of Cincinnati in the All-Star Game alongside former outfielder Nick Castellanos.
On the flip-side, Williamson had a successful rookie campaign in 2023, Phillips is looking to find a home in the Cincinnati starting rotation in 2024, and Fraley has become a team leader and powerful bat in the middle of David Bell's lineup.
Jesse Winker's struggles mounted in 2023 with the Brewers
Last season with Milwaukee, things got even worse for the Buffalo native. Winker posted a .199/.320/.247 slash line in just 61 games with the Brewers as he struggled through injuries. Winker hit just one home run in 2023.
Winker will now join former Reds teammate Nick Senzel in our nation's capital as he looks to recapture the stroke that saw him post an .888 OPS during his five years in Cincinnati.
Jesse Winker appeared to be on track for stardom, but success in the majors can be fleeting at times. After posting atrocious numbers in the outfield the past few seasons, Winker's best bet is to latch on as the Nats' primary designated hitter in 2024. The Cincinnati Reds play the Washington Nationals on Opening Day next month.