Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore noted on Twitter today that the Washington Nationals added right-handed pitcher Michael Crotta on a minor league deal today. The former Pittsburgh Pirates' prospect has dealt with elbow issues over the last two years, but he apparently impressed in a recent tryout.
Nationals' Assistant GM Bryan Minniti spoke to reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, at the Winter Meetings this past December about wanting to add to the pitching depth in the organization after trading some of the top prospects in the system in the last few years. The difficulty in adding depth to a team with a rotation that's pretty much set at the major league level, Mr. Minniti explained, was in, "... recruiting guys who know that they're going to probably end up in Triple-A, barring an injury." The Nats' Asst. GM predicted then signings would likely take place later in the winter once the market sorted itself out and options for those pitchers looking for a home were reduced.
Washington's General Manager, Mike Rizzo, told reporters today, according to reports on Twitter, that he was happy with the depth the Nationals assembled for Spring Training though it wasn't easy:
The #nats are happy with the depth they've put together, Rizzo said, noting it was difficult to sign guys for depth given surety of lineup.— Amanda Comak (@acomak) February 13, 2013
"We're going to go with the best guys." Rizzo on the competition coming into and throughout #SpringTraining— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) February 13, 2013
"We like the group that we have. It was very difficult to get guys to come in on minor league contracts." Rizzo on the depth in camp.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) February 13, 2013
The Nationals already signed veteran lefty Will Ohman and right-hander Jeremy Accardo earlier this month and Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) reported on another signing early this afternoon:
The Nats agreed to terms with RHP Michael Crotta on a minor league deal. He hit 96 in a recent tryout. Missed the past 2 years elbow issues.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) February 13, 2013
A Pittsburgh Pirates' '06 17th Round pick out of Florida Atlantic University, Crotta, 28, worked his way up through the Bucs' organization and made the major league roster out of Spring Training in 2011, beating out lefty Garrett Olson and right-hander Chris Leroux for the final spot in the bullpen with a strong Spring in which he gave up seven hits and three runs, two earned in 11 appearances and 13.2 IP. Crotta made 15 appearances, posting a 9.28 ERA over 10.2 IP before he was put on the DL with elbow inflammation.
Crotta rehabbed the elbow throughout the 2011 season, but in April of 2012 he had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow and had a "giant" screw inserted in his elbow as covered by Yahoo!Sports.com's Kevin Haduk (aka 'Duk') last Spring. In six minor league seasons in the Pirates' organization, the right-hander had a 4.63 ERA, 136 walks (1.86 BB/9) and 414 Ks (5.65 K/9) in in 659.1 IP.