With just three left-handed relievers (closer Sean Doolittle, Sammy Solis, and Matt Grace) on the 40-Man roster, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged that left-hand relief depth was something he’d consider adding this winter when he spoke with reporters at the Winter Meetings last month.
“That’s a position that we would consider and think about,” Rizzo said.
“We like the lefties that we have right now,” he added. “Gracie had a terrific year for us, and we think Solis is a bounce-back candidate. His stuff is too good to get hit around like lefties were hitting him this year, so we’re going to make adjustments with him and see what we’ve got, but we’re not going to rule that out.”
Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported on Twitter last night that the Nats signed southpaw Vidal Nuño to a minor league deal (which pays $1.3M in the majors) with an invitation to Spring Training.
Vidal Nuno signs minors deal with #nats. 1.3M in majors. Outs. MLB spring invite.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 17, 2019
Nuño, 31, posted a 1.64 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 10 walks (2.73 BB/9), 29 strikeouts (7.91 K/9), and a .197/.269/.355 line against in 33 innings on the mound for Tampa Bay, holding left-handed hitters to a .219/.286/.484 line, and right-handers to a .189/.263/.311 line in his first season with the Rays after he pitched for the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, and Baltimore Orioles in the first five years of his six-year MLB career.
Signed to a minor league deal last winter, Nuño started 10 games and made 11 appearances total in the Rays’ system. He was called up in May, but injured his hamstring and was put on the Disabled List in early July, returning to the majors in September, and working exclusively out of the bullpen in the big leagues as he had since making one start for the Mariners back in 2016.
The addition gives the Nationals another option should Solis, 30, who is out of options after putting up a 6.41 ERA, a 4.92 FIP, 18 walks (4.12 BB/9), 44 Ks (10.07 K/9), and .277/.367/.490 line against over 39 1⁄3 IP last season (.224/.337/.382 vs RHBs and a rough .329/.398/.595 vs LHBs), or Grace, 30, who posted a 2.87 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 13 walks (1.96 BB/9), 48 strikeouts (7.24 K/9), and a .237/.285/.354 line against in 59 2⁄3 innings, (with a .225/.272/.379 line vs RHBs and .256/.305/.315 line vs LHBs) struggle this season.