Right-handed reliever Dan Cortes has apparently failed his physical with the Washington Nationals. The team has voided the minor league contract that they signed the soon-to-be 25 year old pitcher to in early January but reportedly is still maintaining some interest in him, according to Amanda Comak of The Washington Post.
Cortes had been expected to provide the organization with some additional pitching depth in the upper minors. Cortes, who does have 14 MLB appearances to his credit, was widely expected to land in the Triple-A Syracuse bullpen once the season begins in April. However, due to the failed physical and voided contract, he is no longer in camp with the Nationals in Viera.
The 6’6″ pitcher is still recovering from surgery to his right shoulder that was performed early this offseason. He reportedly suffered some damage to his rotator cuff and a partial tear in his bicep tendon in an unspecified fall once the regular season concluded. He also allegedly broke his hand (it’s unknown which one) in a separate incident just before the season concluded. The pair of incidents ultimately led to the Seattle Mariners non-tendering him this past December, according to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times.
Cortes’ history of off-field concerns doesn’t quite end there, unfortunately. He was stabbed multiple times in a bowling alley fight in December 2005 which nearly cost him his life. He was then arrested in 2009 for public urination outside an Arkansas nightclub. He was also close friends with Greg Halman, the Mariners outfielder who tragically was murdered in the Netherlands this past November. Cortes spoke at Halman’s funeral.
When the minor league contract was first announced in January, I wrote of the optimism surrounding Cortes’ potential on the mound. He’d need to harness some control problems, but ultimately the potential was enough that I viewed the signing as a positive move for the Nationals as he’d provide yet another viable young hard-throwing arm in the minors should the team find itself in need of bullpen depth mid-season.
Comak does mention that the organization still has some interest in Cortes, once he’s fully recovered. Of course, he’s not on the free agent market and free to sign with another organization but it seems unlikely that another team will pursue him knowing he’s not fully healthy just yet.