The Nationals announced today that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Chris Young to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
Young is not expected to crack the rotation out of camp, though he will serve as an excellent depth option in the event that the injury bug hits the Nationals. With Christian Garcia scheduled to get a second-opinion on his shoulder in the near future, Zach Duke’s presence in the bullpen necessary since the team lacks left-handed bullpen depth and Ross Ohlendorf posting horrid numbers in his last two big-league seasons (8.15 ERA and 7.77 ERA, respectively), Young instantly becomes the favorite in the event that the team needs a replacement starter. As far as depth options go, Young is perhaps one of the best in the league, as he holds a 53-44 record and a 3.79 ERA over his nine-year career.
With Dan Haren’s past shoulder troubles and both Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann undergoing Tommy John surgery in the last few years, health is hardly a given in the Nationals rotation. Having that proven veteran that the team can turn to may prove to be of significant value down the stretch. Quality starting pitching becomes an expensive purchase come late July, and is even harder to obtain past that point without non-waiver trades.
Even if the 33-year-old doesn’t see any time in the bigs this year, he can still provide some value to the team. Having a guy who’s been an All-Star and had big-league success in the past brings a great teacher to the younger minor-league pitchers. Arms like Tanner Roark, Brad Meyers, Pat Lehman and Jeff Mandel (all projected to start the year at Syracuse) could all benefit from Young’s experience, and maybe it’ll help them in taking that next step towards eventually contributing to the big-league squad.