The Nationals signed left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez to a minor league contract, the team announced this afternoon. Gonzalez will report to the Nationals’ spring training complex in Viera, Fla., where he will take a physical and pitching coordinator Spin Williams will evaluate him.
Gonzalez, who will turn 34 later this month, has 56 career saves and last year posted a 4.39 ERA in 53 1/3 innings for the Orioles and Rangers. Rizzo had been in touch with Gonzalez’s agent, Scott Boras, since spring training. When Brad Lidge went on the disabled list with a hernia, General Manager Mike Rizzo said, the Nationals’ interest intensified.
“He’s a veteran, left-handed relief pitcher that can give us some depth and some options for down the road,” Rizzo said. “Just been a fan of his from afar. I scouted him for years with the Pirates and the Braves. I just liked the way he gets after it. He’s got good clubhouse makeup, and he’ll fit into the clubhouse very well.”
The Nationals will determine a path to the majors for Gonzalez after he throws tomorrow in front of Williams. Gonzalez will not be joining the Nationals with any immediacy.
“I couldn’t envision him coming right to the big leagues,” Rizzo said. “He’d have to get some innings under his belt and get stretched out and get his arm strength to major league standards before he gets here.”
The Nationals have replaced Lidge for now with Ryan Perry, who has had mixed results. Friday, he pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 11th inning against the middle of the Phillies’ lineup for the win. Sunday, he imploded in the ninth inning and turned a 3-1 game into a blowout.