The Washington Nationals announced this morning that they agreed on a minor league deal with veteran left-hander Mike Gonzalez, 35, bringing the 11-year veteran back to the organization. Gonzalez pitched for the Nats in 2012, finishing the year at +0.6 fWAR, and putting up a 3.03 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 16 walks (4.04 BB/9) and 39 Ks (9.84 K/9) in 35 2/3 IP:
The #Nats have agreed to terms with LHP Mike Gonzalez on a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 4, 2014
As noted in the tweet announcing the deal, Gonzalez got an invitation to major league Spring Training. The Nationals signed Gonzalez to a minor league deal in 2012, but after one year in the nation's capital, the lefty signed with Milwaukee, agreeing on a 1-year/$2.25M deal. In 2013, Gonzalez finished at -0.6 fWAR and posted a 4.68 ERA, a 4.87 FIP, with 25 walks (4.50 BB/9) and 60 Ks (10.80 K/9) in 50 IP for the Brewers.
Gonzalez joins a group of relievers in camp competing for a spot in the Nationals' bullpen. The Nats acquired left-hander Jerry Blevins from A's this winter. New Nationals' manager Matt Williams has talked often about wanting a second lefty in the bullpen, while acknowledging that it depends on what is available.
"It's ideal to have a lefty whenever you need him," Williams told reporters last month. "So, again, we'll look at it and see what our best club is, but ideally, everybody I think would like to have two lefties that they can manuever in and out of the game. So, we'll see how it goes."
Can Gonzalez beat out Xavier Cedeno for a spot in the bullpen? Cedeno, who performed well as a situational lefty late last season is the likely frontrunner for the job this year if the Nats keep two lefties. Can 25-year-old prospect Sammy Solis beat out the veterans? Is Gonzalez just organization depth?