Chris Young’s new contract with the Nationals calls would have him earn $2 million prorated if he reaches the majors. It could reach up to $4.7 million in incentives, which he can earn once he reaches thresholds for games started beginning with 10 and innings pitched beginning with 60. He willll top out in incentives if he hits 26 starts and 160 innings pitched.
The large performance bonuses indicate how badly the Nationals wanted Young as insurance in the minors. For his part, Young had multiple options and could have chosen another team with a clearer path to the majors. But he “loved” pitching for the Nationals, he said, and trusted they would do right by him.
Original post 3:29 p.m.: More than a week after both sides parted ways, the Nationals re-signed Chris Young to a minor league deal on Thursday, reuniting with a starting pitcher they consider important depth should any major league starter suffer an injury.
The Nationals and Young, 33, remained in contact after he opted out of his minor league contract on March 26, hoping to find an opportunity with a major league team. Last season, the Nationals received 150 starts from their best five starters, a rarity and a strike of good luck and health. But because of recent trades, the Nationals’ starting depth was thinned.
General Manager Mike Rizzo said Young hasn’t thrown in 10 days, since his last start on March 25, and will report to Viera for extended spring training to resume throwing. In likely another 10 to 12 days, Young would be ready to report to Class AAA Syracuse.
Young’s minor league deal includes no opts out date this time, Rizzo said. But like Rizzo had suggested in the past with players of Young’s caliber signed to minor league deals, the Nationals would be open if a major league team asked for Young’s services. “I think that we would have to seriously consider it just for the betterment of him,” Rizzo said. (That, of course, could perhaps be dependent on what team is interested in Young.)
Young, who has a 3.79 career ERA over 159 starts, opted out of his minor league contract with the Nationals the week before opening day after making three solid starts during spring training. He “loved” his brief time with the Nationals but wanted to pursue a major league opportunity. He was also, however, still interested in talking to the Nationals. In all, he started four major league spring training games and punched up a 2.25 ERA over 16 innings. “I thought he was [major league] ready,” Manager Davey Johnson said.
With Young back in the fold, Johnson said the 6-foot-10 right-handed starter was probably the next likely to start a game should a starter be needed. Zach Duke would likely follow, along with Ross Ohlendorf and Yunesky Maya.
Last season with the Mets, Young posted a 4.15 ERA over 20 starts after he finished rehab from major shoulder surgery. By the end of spring, Young, who relies on deception with his high arm angle, was sharper and hitting his normal range of 79 to 82 miles on the radar gun.
“I think he looked a lot like Chris Young,” Rizzo said. “His velocity was down a tick but he’s not a velocity guy. He was starting to get the touch and feel of his fastball and starting to get that zone where he has to pitch in, which is a little bit unique. With right-handed pitchers, he has to pitch a little bit up in the zone but not too far up in the zone. So he was starting to get the feel for where his spot has to be.”
>>> Christian Garcia threw from 60 feet on Wednesday at Nationals Park and will report to Viera on Friday, when the Nationals play their first road game of the season. Garcia was cleared to throw for the first time in nearly a month and a half on Sunday after sitting out with a partially torn tendon in his right throwing forearm. “It feels great,” he said.
On the throwing program, Garcia will rebuild his arm strength and hopes to be back on the mound by the end of the month. The Nationals still hope to stretch out Garcia’s innings as a starter.