Christmas came early for Nationals fans. The team announced Wednesday that they had cut a deal with former catcher Jhonatan Solano, a favorite because of his nickname the Onion, to return on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite. Solano, 30, was released by the Nationals after the 2014 season, and he signed with the Marlins, where his brother, infielder Donovan, plays.
Solano spent most the season at the Marlins’ Class AAA affiliate and hit .228 in 55 games, but was called up and played in seven games. He collected one hit in 20 at-bats. Before the 2015 season, Solano spent 10 years in the Nationals organization.
He earned his popular nickname in 2005, when the native Colombian had to get to Venezuela for a tryout with the Nationals and he hitched a ride with truck carrying people and onions. The 5-foot-9 catcher reached the majors in 2012 and hit .314 with two home runs in 12 games. He had a 24-game cameo in the majors in 2013 and hit .146.
His return is seen as a move to provide depth. Wilson Ramos, who is entering is final year before free agency, is the Nationals’ starting catcher and is backed up by Jose Lobaton. The Nationals have prospects Pedro Severino and Spencer Kieboom on the 40-man roster already.