Nationals agree to terms with three players on minor-league deals

RHP Josh Wilkie, LHP Matt Chico, C Derek Norris & C Jhonatan Solano receive Spring Training invites

The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher J.D. Martin, catcher Carlos Maldonado and first baseman Kevin Barker on minor-league contracts with invitations to Spring Training. Additionally, the Nationals extended Spring Training invitations to right-handed pitcher Josh Wilkie, left-handed pitcher Matt Chico and catchers Derek Norris and Jhonatan Solano. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.

Martin posted a 4.13 ERA in nine starts for the Nationals last season and is 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 24 career starts during two seasons (2009-10) with Washington. The 28-year-old went 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA in seven starts with Syracuse of the Triple-A International League in 2010, improving his career minor-league totals to 63-33 with a 3.41 ERA in 170 games/141 starts over 10 seasons.

Maldonado, 32, hit .273 (3-for-11) with one home run and three RBI in four games last season with the Nationals. He has played parts of three seasons in the big leagues with Pittsburgh (2006-07) and Washington (2010). Maldonado has a .256 batting average with 60 home runs and 499 RBI in 15 minor-league seasons.

Barker has hit .249 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 36 RBI in 126 contests during parts of five big league seasons with Milwaukee (1999-2000), San Diego (2002), Toronto (2006) and Cincinnati (2009). In 15 minor-league seasons, the 35-year-old is a career .273 hitter with 260 home runs and 1,034 RBI.

A standout pitcher at George Washington University, Wilkie recorded nine holds and eight saves with a 2.45 ERA and .228 batting average against in 53 games/one start last season for Syracuse. Following the season, Wilke went 2-2 with one hold and a 3.20 ERA in 18 relief appearance for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. In five minor-league seasons, the 26-year-old has 28 holds, 31 saves and a 2.91 ERA in 210 games/two starts. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in June 2006, he is a two-time All-Star in the minor leagues.

Chico made one start with Washington last season and is 7-15 with a 4.95 ERA in 43 games/40 starts during three seasons (2007-08, 2010) with the Nationals. Recovering from “Tommy John” ligament-replacement surgery, Chico went 7-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 26 starts last season with Harrisburg of the Double-A Eastern League and Syracuse. The 27-year-old is 48-45 with a 3.75 ERA in 144 games/138 starts during eight minor-league seasons.

Norris, 21, led the Single-A Carolina League with 89 walks and a .419 on-base percentage last season, belting 12 home runs with 49 RBI in 94 contests for Potomac. Following the season, he batted .278 with five doubles, two triples, four home runs and 19 RBI in 16 games in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League. Norris -- the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals system, according to Baseball America -- is a two-time All-Star and was named’s Class-A Hitter of the Year and the South Atlantic League’s Most Outstanding Major League Prospect in 2009. In four minor-league seasons, he has a .261 batting average with 67 doubles, two triples, 49 home runs and 186 RBI. Norris was selected by Washington in the fourth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

Solano batted .252 with 15 doubles, six home runs and 42 RBI in 90 games last season for Harrisburg. The 25-year-old is a solid defensive catcher and has posted a .246 batting average with 16 home runs and 148 RBI during five seasons of minor-league ball. He signed as a non-drafted free agent in September 2005.