The 26-year-old thanked the Nationals, their fans and his family for standing by him through the most difficult moments. The ones on the diamond started in late summer 2016 when he tore his left hip labrum. The hip remained troublesome as later back and shoulder pain kept him from the mound where he had once excelled. Forearm and elbow pain forced Glover to miss the entire 2019 season as he rehabbed from setbacks in Florida.
“I have loved this game from the moment I took my first steps and I will continue to love it for the rest of my life,” Glover wrote. He added: “I appreciate everyone that believed in me, I’ll cherish the support and memories forever.”
Glover was a candidate to receive a contract before the non-tender deadline at 8 p.m. Monday. The Nationals signed another right-handed reliever, Hunter Strickland, about an hour before Glover’s announcement. They did not tender a contract to right-handed reliever Javy Guerra, making him a free agent.
Strickland signed a one-year deal worth $1.6 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, and that brought the Nationals’ 40-man roster to 33 players. Strickland’s contract is similar to the one-year, $1 million one the Nationals gave to Wilmer Difo on Sunday in that it feels like a last chance. Difo (in the long term) and Strickland (in the short term) haven’t turned out to be what the Nationals hoped, but they have one more spring training to prove they could still fulfill that vision.
That complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., was where Glover spent most of this season. He started this year hopeful after shoulder inflammation sidelined him for the first half of the 2018 season. He struggled at first during his return but settled in to become a core member of the bullpen. His sparkling September — nine innings, two runs, .471 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage against — made it seem as though he was on the verge of recapturing the spark he once had. Glover was the Nationals’ eighth-round pick in 2015 out of Oklahoma State. He jumped through the team’s system, becoming the first member of the Nationals’ 2013, 2014, 2015 or 2016 draft classes to reach the majors.
But then, this season, he began the year on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain. The team transferred him to the 60-day IL in late April, and though he tried everything — a meeting with specialist James Andrews, a platelet-rich plasma injection — nothing worked. Glover had always tried to pitch through pain. In 2016, he tore a hip labrum but tried to pitch through it. He allowed a home run in late September before finally telling then-pitching coach Mike Maddux. He hit the disabled list twice more in 2017, and the second stint, for back stiffness, ended his year.
The right-hander attributed the back stiffness to an accident while showering, but he later admitted he had been trying to pitch through pain again, this time in his shoulder. He admitted that “overcompensation” hurt his back. The injury resulted in severe rotator cuff inflammation and led to vertebrae shifting out of place when he slipped in the shower.
Those injuries defined Glover’s career. The glimpses of what he was ultimately left the Nationals and their fans wondering what could have been. But for now, for himself, Glover has decided to accept what is.
Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.