Nationals add Chris Young, bolster starting pitching depth

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

In their ceaseless search to add depth behind their starting rotation, the Nationals today signed 6-foot-10 right-hander Chris Young to a minor league deal with an invitation to big-league camp.

Young, 33, made 20 starts for the New York Mets last year after returning from the shoulder operation he underwent in 2011. He went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 115 innings, striking out 6.3 batters per nine innings while walking 2.8.

An all-star in 2007, Young has since been besieged with shoulder issues. He made only four starts in both 2010 and 2011 and has thrown more than 100 innings twice in the past five years.

Last year, though, Young showed improvement as he moved away from his latest operation. In his final eight starts, he punched up a 3.09 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 16 walks in 46 2/3 innings. His average fastball rose in his 20 starts, starting with 83.9 miles per hour in early June and finishing at 85.6 in his final game of the year.

The Nationals will add Young to their stable of options behind their projected starting five. Last year, none of the Nationals’ five starters suffered an injury that caused them to miss a start, a rare stroke of fortune they understand is unlikely to repeat.

The Nationals have also signed Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal and extensively scouted Javier Vazquez, who is considering a comeback from retirement. In addition to them, Ryan Perry, Tanner Roark, Christian Garcia and others could serve as insurance.

Young, the third-tallest pitcher in baseball history, played basketball for current Georgetown coach John Thompson III at Princeton.

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