The Nationals signed recently beleaguered right-hander Mat Latos to a minor league deal Monday, their Manager Dusty Baker acknowledged after reports of the deal bubbled up just before his press conference Wednesday afternoon. Baker managed Latos for two seasons in Cincinnati (2012-13), the best years of the 28-year-old’s polarized career. Latos went 28-11 and struck out 185 and 187 batters, respectively, in those seasons.

Latos will be a Class AAA starter for the Nationals, who do not view him as a potential bullpen option, according to a person familiar with the situation. He made 11 starts for the White Sox and went 6-2 with a 4.62 ERA, though he lasted at least six innings in each of his first four starts and did not allow more than one earned run in any of them. But he struggled after that. His last White Sox start came against the Nationals, who scored six runs against him in 4 1/3 innings. Chicago released him that week, the same day he was supposed to bring his wife and baby to the park to meet his former manager, Baker.

“They didn’t give him a whole bunch of time to fall apart. Maybe they didn’t believe what they were seeing in the victories that preceded us getting there,” Baker said. “I don’t know. I can’t speak for another man, but I thought it was a bit premature to release him at that time.”

When Latos first came up, his fastball averaged 94 mph. When he had those elite years in Cincinnati, it averaged just more than 92. This year, he has averaged just more than 90.

“I know there’s more in there. And he’s not old, and he’s not hurt anymore. So there’s more in there,” Baker said. “I’m not the one who signed him. I’m the one they asked and said ‘Would he be worth the chance?’ ”

Latos is known as something of a free spirit, loose cannon . . . choose your term, and Baker admitted he had to “chastise him often.”

“We had a good relationship. Whatever I did was for his own good evidently, because like I said, he was 14-4 and whatever it was after that,” Baker said. “. . . Some guys you got to kick them in the butt, some guys you got to pat them on the butt, and some guys you got to leave alone.”

The top right-handed pitching prospect left in the Nationals minor league system, Reynaldo Lopez, was just promoted to Syracuse and will have a spot there. Fellow right-hander Austin Voth, also considered a major league prospect, is also there. A.J. Cole, Taylor Hill, Paolo Espino, and Jaron Long are other right-handed starting options. Another former Red, Bronson Arroyo, is officially listed on the Syracuse disabled list.

“It gives us some depth,” Baker said. “. . . And if nothing else, September is right around the corner. I think right now Mat’s trying to get in the best shape possible. He’s going to get in shape first, tip-top shape, which I asked him to do when I was talking to him about possibly signing then. Because you know I’m big on guys getting in shape. The better you perform. The better your mind’s clear.”

Latos first told Chicago radio host Bruce Levine of his deal with the Nationals.