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RHPs Young, Alfaro get minor-league deals

Nov 20, 2013, 11:05 AM EDT

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The Nationals signed Chris Young last spring, hoping the former All-Star could be summoned from Class AAA Syracuse in case of a sudden pitching need. Young never did make it to Washington, beset by injuries and poor performance, but the Nationals are willing to give the right-hander another shot.

The Nationals announced Wednesday morning they’ve signed both Young and right-handed reliever Gabriel Alfaro to minor-league contracts. Each pitcher will get an invitation to big-league spring training, with an outside shot at cracking the Opening Day roster.

Young, 34, rejoins the organization after a frustrating 2013. Signed in February, he was supposed to serve as the Nationals’ No. 6 starter, biding his time at Class AAA until a spot in the big-league rotation opened.

But Young, a 2007 All-Star with San Diego and owner of a 3.79 ERA in 159 career starts with the Rangers, Padres and Mets, appeared in only seven games for Syracuse this season and posted a 7.88 ERA. A lingering neck injury sidelined him the majority of the year and kept the Nationals from ever calling him up.

Young’s chances of making the Nationals’ rotation are slim. He probably falls behind prospects Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark and Nate Karns on the organizational depth chart, and general manager Mike Rizzo remains in the market for at least one more experienced, major-league starter.

If Young does make the big-league roster, he will earn a $1.5 million base salary with incentives that could bring that total all the way up to $6 million, according to a source familiar with the contract. As was the case this year, he’s allowed to opt out of the deal at the end of spring training.

Alfaro, meanwhile, joins the Nationals after two years in the Mexican League, where he recorded 26 saves with sub-2.75 ERAs in consecutive seasons for the Oaxaca Guerreros.

The 30-year-old was originally signed by the Blue Jays out of Venezuela and spent 2005-06 pitching for Toronto’s short-season Class A affiliate in Auburn, N.Y. He’s currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he owns a 4.38 ERA, 10 strikeouts and seven walks in 12 1/3 innings.

  1. blovy8 - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    You could also look at last year as giving those guys some ML experience. Doesn’t it start to look like the Nats are trying to pile up enough starting pitching depth to make a trade?

  2. Sonny G 10 - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    This could be a good signing if he’s healthy and stays that way. Probably not a lot invested in him, so not a lot of risk.

  3. sjm308 - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    If he ends up pitching for us in meaningful games this year I will be very surprised or very sad. I just don’t see him doing much but in a positive way but it could allow us to keep players in AA and high A at the beginning of the season instead of rushing them. I sometimes wonder what it takes for a player to realize that it is time. Of course, I wish him well and maybe this is the road to becoming a coach or maybe, just maybe, he will find something and I will be eating a huge portion of crow. He does add to the team IQ with Ohlendorf and it has to help to have mentors at every level. Bottom line is, its not a negative move in any way and has to be better than Maya if he is healthy.

    Go Nats!!

  4. jd - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    sjm,

    It’s just organizational depth. You need veterans to pitch at AAA and if need be you at least have someone who has pitched in the majors with some modest level of success.

    • sjm308 - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Like I said, not a negative move in any way unless he blocks a youngster and I doubt if that is the case. I like that we have some depth and I also talked about him being a mentor to those guys on the way up that have never experienced what he has. I think with the opt out clause though that he will continue to chase that dream of making it back and he will have a good idea of what is ahead of him on this club after a full spring training.

  5. scnatsfan - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Can never sign too many arms

  6. Faraz Shaikh - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    That Gabriel guy has nice stats.

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