The Nationals announced this morning they signed 38-year-old right-hander Miguel Batista to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to big-league spring training. It's yet another attempt by general manager Mike Rizzo to stockpile affordable pitching options in case some of the team's young starters aren't ready to be in the rotation, though Batista could end up in the bullpen, as well.
Batista made 56 appearances for the Mariners last season, posting a 7-4 record with a 4.04 ERA. It was the first time he had pitched primarily in relief since 2005, when he saved 31 games for Toronto, and he won 16 games as a starter for Seattle in 2007. Batista has pitched 530 games in his 15-year career, making 237 starts.
The thought here is Batista can be the kind of "rubber arm" the Nats found in Julian Tavarez last year, except Batista's lows haven't been quite as low. He's got a long track record of being able to bounce back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, and has proven he can handle sizable workloads even in his late 30s. Plus, there's the Rizzo connection from when both were in Arizona. It's not a headline-grabber, but Batista can be a functional piece of either the rotation or the bullpen, without much lost if he doesn't pan out.