Right-hander Chris Young, ostensibly in the competition for the Nationals’ fifth starter spot, can opt out of his minor league contract if the Nationals do not add him to the 25-man roster by Thursday, a person familiar with the contract said.
Young, 33, has bounced back this spring after an injured-riddled 2013, which he spent either with Class AAA Syracuse or on the disabled list. Following offseason surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, Young recaptured velocity and improved his breaking ball. He threw his fastball in the low-80s last spring. Saturday, Young touched 88 mph and threw a deceptive, sharp slider. He is far closer to his all-star prime than he has been in years.
The Nationals have mentioned Young alongside Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan as candidates for their final rotation spot. Barring an injury, though, it appears the Nationals have winnowed the choice to either Roark and Jordan.
The Nationals would like to keep Young as rotation depth in the minors. But Young would of course jump at the chance to join a major league team. His strong performance, combined with the preponderance of calamitous pitching injuries across the league, may create a spot in the back of some team’s rotation.
“I think he can help somebody,” a National League scout said.
If Young opts out of his contract, the Nationals would then have 24 hours to let him sign elsewhere or add him to the active roster.
Young has struck out nine, walked four and allowed four earned runs this spring.