Already coping with a mounting number of injuries across the roster, the Washington Nationals added some bullpen depth Tuesday afternoon after agreeing to a minor league contract with Mike Gonzalez. The left-hander will turn 34 later this month and will provide another bullpen option for Davey Johnson to use at his disposal. Gonzalez will reportedly report to the team’s Spring Training complex in Viera, Florida. Once he’s in “game shape” the team will likely assess where to assign him within their minor league system.
Gonzalez was originally a 1997 Draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He finally reached the Majors during the 2003 season. In nine years he’s pitched for the Pirates, Braves, Orioles, and Rangers, posting a 17-21 record across 387 appearances (totaling 358.2 innings). He holds a career ERA of 2.94 with a 10.3 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
Despite being one of the better lefty options available on this past winter’s free agent market, the Scott Boras client failed to develop much serious interest. He finished the 2011 season with the Texas Rangers and there was a great deal of speculation that he’d ultimately return to Texas for another season. However, as the offseason progressed it started to become evident that they simply would not have room for Gonzalez unless they were able to deal one of their veteran bullpen options (most notably Koji Uehara). The team did offer him a minor league contract in early March, but Gonzalez (likely at the behest of his agent) turned it down under the belief that a better option would come along. He also underwent knee surgery late in the winter, potentially scaring some teams away, though it’s believed he should be healed at this point.