The Washington Nationals announced this afternoon that they had signed 6'10'' right-hander Chris Young to a minor league deal after he opted out of his previous deal with the team to pursue a job on a major league roster. The 33-year-old nine-year veteran made four starts for the Nationals this Spring, posting a 2.25 ERA with seven walks and nine Ks in 16.0 IP. The starter had a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out of the first deal if he didn't seem likely to make the Opening Day roster. Once he works out at the Nats' facilities in Viera, Florida he'll join the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs as an insurance policy should any of the Nationals' starters suffer an injury this season.
Davey Johnson told reporters this morning that he was impressed by Young's work this Spring and happy to see him return. "I like him," Johnson said, "He threw the ball good this Spring, pitched really well, competitor. It's really great insurance." The one-time Ranger, Padre and Met will likely be the first option as a backup starter should anything happen to a member of the rotation. Young pitched for New York in 2011-12 but underwent shoulder surgery and told reporters this Spring that he was finally healthy two years after the procedure to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder.
The Nationals' manager said he was actually surprised Young was unable to find a deal with another team. "He had a good Spring for us," Johnson said, "It's probably that late in the year, a lot of clubs are going with their young guys." Asked how close the pitcher was to being ready to pitch in the majors, Johnson said he was ready now. "I thought he was ready," the 70-year-old skipper said, but now he just has to get back up to speed. "I'm sure he has to be throwing. You wouldn't want to let all that go to waste and have to regroup on that. But I imagine he'll probably do a couple of pens down [in Florida] and then join the club."
The move gives the Nationals some of the depth they were looking for all winter after dealing away some of their prospects over the last few years. "When you really have a good organization," Johnson explained, "Is when you have depth at your Triple-A, Double-A level that are knocking on the door. Big league prospects. And that was the one area because of the [Brad] Peacock, [Tom] Milone trade that we lost a sizeable amount of our insurance."