Nationals Sign Mike Gonzalez + Matt Williams On Jerry Blevins

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Williams would prefer to have two left-handers in his bullpen. The Washington Nationals acquired Jerry Blevins from the Oakland A's this winter. This morning, they signed Mike Gonzalez, bringing the reliever back to D.C. after he spent a season in Milwaukee.

Washington Post writer James Wagner, citing a "person familiar with the deal," wrote this morning that the contract 35-year-old lefty Mike Gonzalez signed with the Washington Nationals today will pay the 11-year veteran, "$1.5 million if he makes the major league roster," with the potential to make, "...another $750,000 in incentives."

"Every manager would love to have two lefties. We'll have to see how it works in Spring Training." - Matt Williams on makeup of Nats' bullpen

Gonzalez is coming off a 1-year/$2.25M with Milwaukee that he signed after pitching for the Nationals in 2012.

Working out of the 'pen for the NL East Division winners that year, the veteran reliever finished  at +0.6 fWAR, posting 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. With the Brewers, Gonzalez finished at -0.6 fWAR, posting a 4.68 ERA, a 4.87 FIP, 25 walks (4.50 BB/9) and 60 Ks (10.80 K/9) in 50 IP.

Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters, including the WaPost's Mr. Wagner, that Gonzalez has been throwing and he will come to Spring Training to compete for a spot as the second left-hander in the Nationals' bullpen:

"'He’s here on a minor league deal with the idea that he’ll compete. It’s a little bit late in the game. He’s told us he’s been throwing. We’ll see when he gets here what he’s done and where he’s at. But he’ll be able to compete for a spot in the bullpen.'"

When he talked to reporters earlier this spring, Williams said he would, of course, prefer to have two lefties in the bullpen.

"Every manager would love to have two lefties," he said. "We'll have to see how it works in Spring Training. What we can accomplish."

Nats' GM Mike Rizzo has stated previously this winter that he felt 27-year-old left-hander Xavier Cedeno earned the right to compete for a role in the Nationals' bullpen with his work last season.

"He's down in the zone. He's like Doug [Fister]. He's just kind of down in the zone all the time. Ball sinks and induces a lot of grounders." - Matt Williams on Blevins after first outing

In 4 2/3 IP for the Nationals in September, Cedeno put up a 1.93 ERA and a 0.90 FIP, with no walks and five Ks.

On the year at Triple-A Syracuse, the former Houston Astros' prospect claimed off waivers last April, was (2-0) with four saves, a 1.31 ERA, a 2.82 FIP, 16 walks (4.19 BB/9) and 45 Ks (11.80 K/9) in 34 1/3 IP.

Sammy Solis, 25, has been discussed as an option at some point this season.

Ross Detwiler's name has been thrown out there as a potential reliever as well, if he loses out on the battle for the fifth spot in the Nationals' 'pen.

If another left-hander makes the Opening Day roster, they'll join 30-year-old lefty Jerry Blevins in the bullpen.

The Nats acquired Blevins, the 6'6'' veteran of seven major league seasons, from the Oakland A's this winter in return for 2013 Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year Billy Burns.

Williams got his first look at the reliever earlier this week when Blevins threw a nine-pitch, five-strike inning against the Miami Marlins, walking one batter and striking one out.

"What we've seen on tape," Williams said afterwards. "Why Mike [Rizzo] liked him. The ability to command the strike zone. Get righties out. Use all of his pitches, certainly. But yeah, he was good. He's down in the zone. He's like Doug [Fister]. He's just kind of down in the zone all the time. Ball sinks and induces a lot of grounders."

"He throws cutter, sinker, changeup, curveball," Williams continued. "Throws them all. Which makes him effective to right-handers too. The ability to sink the ball away, cut the ball in, and he's got command, which is huge. So, we saw it a little bit today, kind of going, away, away, away and then pop a fastball in there on the corner. He doesn't light up the radar gun, but he has command within the zone."

Will Williams' pen have two lefties in it on Opening Day?

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