Former Nationals catcher Jesus Flores found a new home today, signing a minor league with the Los Angeles Dodgers that includes an invite to major league spring training, according to a person familiar with the deal.
Flores, 28, became the Nationals’ starting catcher last year after Wilson Ramos tore his ACL in mid-May, only to be replaced by Kurt Suzuki at the trade deadline. Flores had played for the Nationals since 2007, when they plucked him from the New York Mets in the Rule 5 draft.
The Nationals non-tendered Flores this offseason, the end of a once-promising, injury-derailed tenure in Washington. Flores emerged as the Nationals’ everyday catcher in 2009 at 24, making him one of the brightest spots on a dreadful team. But early that season, he took a foul ball off the right shoulder. A bone bruise turned into a torn labrum, and Flores missed most of 2009 and all of 2010.
He came back in 2011, but Flores was never quite the same. In 296 plate appearances last year, Flores hit .213/.248/.329 with six home runs. He threw out nine of 60 base stealers, a struggle that could be partly attributed to the Nationals’ slow-to-the-plate pitching staff.
Flores should have a good chance to make the Dodgers’ opening day roster as at least a backup. The Dodgers currently have only two catchers on their 40-man roster – incumbent starter A.J. Ellis and prospect Tim Federowicz, who appeared in three games as a call-up at the very end of last year.
With Flores having landed with a new team, only one National remains from the opening day 25-man roster Mike Rizzo inherited as interim general manager in 2009: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. (Jordan Zimmermann was in the first rotation, but he was called up a few games into the season.)