The Nationals have agreed to terms with veteran reliever Brad Lidge on a one-year deal, the team announced. Lidge gives the Nationals’ bullpen, already one of the best in baseball, a right-hander with a devastating slider and mountains of experience, including recording the final out of the 2008 World Series.
Lidge, 35, was limited by a shoulder injury to 25 games last season with the Philadelphia Phillies. But in the 19 innings he pitched, Lidge allowed only three earned runs, striking out 23 and walking 13.
“Once he began his rehab last year, after he was shut down in spring training, he didn’t miss a beat,” Rex Gary, Lidge’s agent, said. “As the season progressed, his velocity continued to progress. He feels great.”
“Brad is one of the more interesting teammates I’ve had,” said Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, who played with Lidge in Philadelphia. “Not your average athlete. Very intelligent on and off the field. He will bring culture to our clubhouse, along with his nasty slider. Good guy, glad we got him. He will be a perfect fit for our young talented bullpen.”
Lidge, who has pitched for the Phillies for the past four seasons, has 223 career saves. With the Nationals, he could fill any number of roles but will likely join Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez as set-up for closer Drew Storen, who in the past has cited Lidge as a role model.
“Washington has a closer, and he knows that,” Gary said. “He’s coming into pitch late innings and important situations. He’s fully aware that the game plan is to use him in the setup.”
Lidge signed for $1 million, plus incentives based on appearances and games finished. General Manager Mike Rizzo knew Lidge all the way back from when he was an amateur scout and Lidge pitched at Notre Dame.
“I’ve got to give Mike Rizzo credit,” Gary said. “When the Nats got into this thing and started looking at the possibilities, Mike Rizzo was relentless. He made an offer quickly, things progressed quickly. He made Brad feel really comfortable, encouraged about what the opportunities would be. Brad was certainly aware of how competitive a club Washington was going to have. He’s really exited.”
CSNPhilly.com first reported the Nationals and Lidge were nearing a deal. Last season, coming off a torn rotator cuff injury, Lidge altered the way he pitches. His fastball average 89 miles per hour, down from roughly 96 at its peak in 2007 and 2008. Lidge hardly used his fastball, actually, throwing his excellent slider 72 percent of the time, according to information gathered by FanGraphs.com.