Ten days after they granted right-hander Chris Young his unconditional release, the Washington Nationals welcomed him back with a minor league deal on Thursday.
Young, who does not have an out clause in his newest deal with the Nationals, had reported to Viera, Fla., and will remain there for about 10-12 days to throw a few bullpen sessions before joining Triple-A Syracuse.
“He’s a qualified, quality, major-league starting pitcher who gives us some additional depth in our rotation and a guy that could help us down the road,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who opened his comments by praising Young for the quality of his character.
Young, who raved about his experience with the Nationals this spring, will become the team’s first option should they require an additional starter, due to injury or possible double-header, and manager Davey Johnson was equally pleased to get the 6-foot-10 righty back under contract.
“I like him,” Johnson said. “He threw the ball good this spring, pitched really well. A competitor. Real great insurance.”
Young was with the Nationals in spring training on a minor league deal, but that contract contained an out clause at the end of March and, with the Nationals having no room on their pitching staff or in their rotation, he filed the paperwork to exercise it after his start on March 25.
On the morning of March 26, the Nationals granted him his release in order to allow him to try to find a spot on a major league roster.
It appears that he was unable to do that, which was mildly surprising to the Nationals who felt he was season-ready by the end of the spring.
“I think he looked a lot like Chris Young,” Rizzo said. “His velocity was down a tick, but he’s not a velocity guy. He was starting to get the touch and feel of his fastball and starting to get that zone that he has to pitch in, which is a little bit unique with right-handed pitchers. He has to pitch a little bit up in the zone, but not too far up in the zone. So he was starting to get the touch-feel for where his spot has to be.”
While this new contract does not have an out clause, Rizzo said if the right-hander was presented with a major league opportunity elsewhere, he would consider letting him out of his deal.
“We would certainly have to consider it, just for (his) betterment,” Rizzo said.