Seeking for some more experienced left-handed options in their bullpen, the Nationals have signed veteran Vidal Nuño to a minor-league contract with an invitation to compete for a job in big-league camp this spring.
The deal, confirmed by a club source, will pay Nuño $1.3 million if he makes the major league roster, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman. It includes an opt-out clause if Nuño doesn’t make the team.
Nuño, 31, posted a 1.64 ERA and 1.030 WHIP in 17 appearances for the Rays last season, pitching multiple innings in eight of those outings. Originally a starter when he debuted for the Yankees in 2013, he transitioned into a full-time relief role in 2016 with the Mariners.
In parts of six big league seasons with five organizations, Nuño owns an 8-21 record, 4.06 ERA and 1.279 WHIP. He has only 4 years, 12 days of major league service time, though, so he would be under the Nationals’ control through 2020 if they choose to keep him.
As things currently stand, Nuño figures to get a real shot at making the opening day roster. Aside from closer Sean Doolittle, the only other left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster are Matt Grace and Sammy Solís. Grace, coming off a strong season in which he was used in a variety of roles, should be favored to make the club. Solís, coming off a disappointing season in which he couldn’t consistently get left-handed hitters out, agreed to an $850,000 deal earlier this winter but would be owed only one-sixth of that salary if he is released by March 13.
A number of experienced lefty relievers still remain on the open market, including Justin Wilson, Tony Sipp, Dan Jennings, Jerry Blevins, Xavier Cedeño, Zach Duke, Boone Logan and Jake Diekman. The Nationals could still seek to sign someone from that group.
In other news, the Nats announced that infielder Matt Reynolds cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Fresno. Reynolds had been designated for assignment last weekend to clear a roster spot for new second baseman Brian Dozier.