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Nationals Sign Veteran Lefty Mike Gonzalez To Minor League Deal

Mike Gonzalez pitched for the NL East division winning Washington Nationals in 2012, but left for Milwaukee after that season. This morning the Nats announced that they signed the veteran reliever to a minor league deal, bringing him back to the organization.

Dilip Vishwanat

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:

"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." - Matt Williams on keeping two lefties in the bullpen

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?