Guthrie hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015 with the Royals, but the Nats are willing to take a low-risk chance on the 37-year-old, a highly popular member of rotations in Baltimore and Kansas City over the last decade.
Owner of a 91-108 record and 4.37 ERA in 305 career major league appearances (272 starts), Guthrie provides the kind of experienced fallback option the Nationals have lacked in recent seasons.
Their opening day rotation is set barring injuries, with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez and Joe Ross all assured of jobs. But their depth beyond that is suspect, especially after top prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez were dealt to the White Sox this winter in the Adam Eaton trade.
Guthrie figures to join young right-handers A.J. Cole and Austin Voth and veteran swingman Vance Worley as candidates to serve as the No. 6 starter, though he’ll have plenty to prove this spring after seeing his career sputter the last few seasons.
After going 13-11 with a 4.13 ERA in 2014 and starting two World Series games for the Royals, Guthrie struggled the following year, going 8-8 with a 5.95 ERA. He wound up pitching for the Triple-A affiliates of both the Padres and Marlins last season, with a bloated 7.17 ERA in 17 starts.
Seeking a bounce back and to perhaps leave a better impression on American scouts, Guthrie pitched this winter for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League. He went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts.
The Nationals appear to have seen enough to believe he deserves a shot this spring in West Palm Beach.