Matt Stairs’ tenure in a Nationals uniform was brought to its unceremonious end Wednesday afternoon when the Nationals designated him for assignment and created space on their 40-man and 25-man rosters for newly acquired outfielder Jonny Gomes.
Stairs, a veteran presence and influence on many of the Nationals’ young hitters, signed on to be used mostly in a pinch-hitting role with Washington. He got off to a hitless start through April and hit .154 in 56 games, picking up just 10 hits all season. He notched his 100th career pinch hit with his first of the season in Philadelphia and delivered a walkoff single on July 1 against Pittsburgh.
Otherwise it was a season filled with frustration for the 43-year-old Stairs, the all-time major league leader in pinch hit home runs with 23. Ultimately, the Nationals could no longer afford to keep him on the roster as they attempt to upgrade their bench with the addition of Gomes. It could mean the end of a major league career that spans parts of 19 seasons and puts Stairs’ name down as one of the greatest pinch hitters of all time.
This will not be the last roster move for the Nationals this week as they prepare to welcome Chien-Ming Wang back to the active roster on Friday, which will also necessitate clearing space on the 25-man roster, and there could still be a flurry of activity as they approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.