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Gonzalez returns to Nats on minor-league deal

Mar 4, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

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Michael Gonzalez, a key member of the Nationals’ division-winning bullpen in 2012, is returning to the organization.

The Nationals have signed Gonzalez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league camp, offering him an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster as the club’s second left-handed reliever.

Gonzalez, 35, joined the Nats in May 2012 on a similar minor-league deal and joined the major-league bullpen one month later. He became a stalwart for the NL East champs, posting a 3.03 ERA in 47 appearances.

The Nationals had some interest in re-signing Gonzalez last winter, but he signed with the Brewers for $2.25 million. He wound up appearing in 75 games but saw his ERA balloon to 4.68 and his WHIP to a career-worst 1.660.

Once he reports to Viera, Gonzalez will join a wide-open competition for the one or two spots up for grabs in the Nationals’ bullpen. The club plans to have newly acquired Jerry Blevins serve as their top left-handed reliever, but manager Matt Williams has said he’d prefer a second lefty if possible.

The other candidates in camp include Xavier Cedeno, who pitched well in a brief stint with the Nationals last season, and Ross Detwiler, who could wind up in the bullpen if he doesn’t win the competition for the No. 5 spot in the Opening Day rotation.

  1. dgourds - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    I never thought he was so great. For a guy who comes in to face one or two lefties, a 3.03 ERA isn’t so amazing. And he was very mediocre with the Brewers. I’d say put Det and Cedeno/ Ohlendorf in the bullpen and start Roark as no.5.

  2. Doc - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Who’s next to sign?

    Gorzo and Lefty?

  3. Hiram Hover - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    This kind of thing is obviously not the most exciting part of Rizzo’s job, but the kind of thing needs to do, just in case.

  4. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Re-posting from previous thread.

    Last year Gonzalez put up -0.6 fWar, and fangraphs has him projected at just about exactly replacement level for this year. If he is replacement leve (i.e., an AAA player), then I’d rather see Solis get his chance first.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1794&position=P

    Fangraphs also tracks Shutdowns (SD) and Meltdowns (MD) which is more meaningful for relievers than WAR (IMO). Gonzalez was not pretty. 10 SD vs 18 MD.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1794&position=P#winprobability

    Here is how our bullpen looked last year on the SD/MD scale.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=all&qual=0&type=3&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=24&rost=0&age=0

    And here is how our bullpen looked compared to the rest of the NL. Note how good the Pirates’ pen was (we all knew that)–a key to their success.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=nl&qual=0&type=3&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

    I’m not sure Gonzalez being “a month behind” is a factor because (a) you don’t know his off-season program and (b) relievers don’t take that long to gear up. If service time is a factor then they might keep Solis down for a while.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Great info. Thanks for compiling!

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Hey everyone… Hope you all have had a good winter… I love the snow but even I am over it…

    So I saw pieces of the game yesterday and I must say.. Det showed me nothing on why he should be the 5 starter. I think he should be in the BP and I was hoping they would sign another LHP to kinda even out the starting 5 rotation…. Even so still, I think Det would best be served there…

    I always liked M Gonzalez… It seems as if Rizzo is covering the bases by getting some lefties this year since we virtually had none last year.

    • NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Hi, Mrs B! Welcome back! Now we’ve had DC Wonk come out of hibernation and a couple of others. Anyone seen Ghost of SteveM?

      • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        Sec3Sofa is back too. I’m back (Gonat) as I finally figured the new format out. Did a name change as I couldn’t remember my old info.

  6. scnatsfan - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    I thought Perez was going to get this offer

  7. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Johan Santana is the other veteran lefty looking for a bullpen spot. I think the Os got him on a Minor League deal.

    • NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      Yes, they did. Obviously, Santana has the higher ceiling, but it remains to be seen if he has anything left.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        Has Johan passed his physical? ;)

    • karlkolchak - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Not exactly–reports are he’ll get $3 million plus incentives if called up to the big club this year. That means they’re hoping he’ll join their rotation at some point.

      • sjm308 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        This is probably not a huge gamble for the O’s. What I had read was he was still not even touching 80 and was months from being ready. He was a true bulldog for the Mets and it would be a great story if he makes it back.

      • karlkolchak - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        But that is a lot of money to pay, even on a prorated basis, if they wanted to try him out as a middle reliever.

  8. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    For some reason Brooks Analytics wasn’t covering the Yankees/Nats game yesterday. They only compiled data on 5 teams in the Grapefruit League yesterday.

    I was curious to see Det’s fastballs and location and official velo.

    Oh well.

  9. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    At this point, Ghost needs to come back as Ghost of the Ghost of Steve M.

    • Doc - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      That’s a lot of reincarnations, Section 222! LOL

      Regardless, we need to have Ghost transmutate!!

      • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Any knowledge and insight here is what makes this a must read. The Ghost has insight that is provactive while being right on point. Yes, a 180 degree view is not always received well but right is right.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Ghost Buster?

  10. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    I love how Rizzo never sleeps. You never know when another lefty reliever will come in handy. Mike Gonzo sure did in 2010. Rizzo seems to have learned the less of 2013 very well. Kudos.

  11. knoxvillenat - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Deuces……I think you meant to say Gonzo came in handy in 2012, not 2010.

    • Section 222 - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      I did. Thanks. Must have been remembering the 2010 Gonzo — the AG– who in nearly 200 PAs had a grand total of 5 RBIs, and and an OPS of .578. Might as well have been a lefty reliever for all the good he did the team.

      Now that I think of it, that’s the precedent for having a good glove/ no hit guy as our 25th man. Not something I want us to repeat.

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