Nationals announce 2016 non-roster invitees
The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Bronson Arroyo, left-handed pitcher Sean Burnett, right-handed pitcher Paolo Espino, left-handed pitcher Aaron Laffey, right-handed pitcher Nick Masset, catcher Jhonatan Solano, infielder Brendan Ryan, infielder Scott Sizemore, outfielder Chris Heisey, outfielder Reed Johnson and outfielder Logan Schafer on Minor League contracts with invitations to 2016 Major League Spring Training. In addition, the Nationals extended Spring Training invites to right-handed pitcher Michael Brady, right-handed pitcher Erik Davis, right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, right-handed pitcher Taylor Hill, right-handed pitcher Wander Suero, right-handed pitcher Austin Voth, infielder Jason Martinson, infielder Matt Skole and outfielder Tony Campana.
Pitchers and catchers are slated to report to the Nationals’ Spring Training facility in Viera, Fla., by Thursday, Feb. 18. Washington’s position players will report by Tuesday, Feb. 23, and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25.
Arroyo, a veteran of 15 Major League seasons, joins the Nationals after spending the 2015 season recovering from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, performed in July 2014. The 38-year-old has a 145-131 career record and a 4.19 ERA in 405 games (369 starts) during his Major League career. Arroyo last pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014, going 7-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 starts before suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament in early July. Prior to Arizona, Arroyo spent eight seasons (2006-13) with the Cincinnati Reds, where he ranks among the club’s all-time leaders in strikeouts (8th, 1112), starts (8th, 265), wins (13th, 105) and innings pitched (13th, 1690.1). Prior to his time with the Reds, Arroyo pitched three seasons (2003-05) for the Boston Red Sox, where he was a member of the 2004 World Series Champions, and three seasons (2000-2002) with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Burnett, 33, returns to the Washington Nationals where he spent four seasons (2009-12) and posted a 2.81 ERA in 245 relief appearances. Burnett missed the 2015 season while recovering from June 2014 Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. Following his initial stint with the Nationals, Burnett joined the Los Angeles Angels, where he posted a 1.74 ERA in 16 games while battling injuries.
Espino, 29, enters his third season in Washington’s system. His strong 2015 campaign yielded his first invite to the Nationals’ Major League Spring Training. Espino went 8-9 with a 3.47 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. His 120 strikeouts ranked third among Nationals farmhands, while his 3.47 ERA ranked seventh. Following the season, Espino went 2-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 10 games (10 starts) for Caribes de Anzoategui of the Venezuelan Winter League. Espino, who joined Washington after seven seasons (2007-13) in the Cleveland Indians organization, has struck out nearly a batter per inning (8.4 SO/9.0) and has posted a 3.46 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his nine-year professional career.
Laffey, 30, returns to the organization after spending the 2015 season with the Colorado Rockies. He enjoyed three MLB stints (1-0, 3.68 ERA, 3 G) with Colorado after signing with the Rockies as a Minor League free agent following the 2014 season. He appeared in 27 games (12 starts) for Triple-A Albuquerque, going 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA. Laffey spent the 2014 season with the Syracuse Chiefs where his 12 wins were third most in the International League and he was named an International League All-Star.
Masset, 33, joins the Nationals after stints with Miami and Atlanta in 2015. Masset began the season with Triple-A New Orleans before having his contract purchased by the Marlins on April 21. He appeared in eight games with the Marlins before he was designated for assignment on May 17, eventually signing with the Atlanta Braves. He appeared in 20 games before being released on July 10. Masset went a combined 2-2 with a 4.68 ERA in 28 MLB games.
Solano, 30, returns to the organization that signed him out of a tryout camp in Venezuela in Sept. 2005. He spent the 2015 season in the Miami Marlins organization, beginning the season with Triple-A New Orleans. He had his contract purchased by Miami on April 24 and enjoyed two stints with the Marlins, appearing in seven games. While with the Marlins, Solano had the opportunity to play on the same team as his brother, Donovan.
Ryan, 33, joins the Nationals after parts of nine Major League seasons with the New York Yankees (2013-15), Seattle (2011-13) and St. Louis (2007-10). A superb defender, Ryan has appeared in MLB games at shortstop (705 games/635 starts), second base (104 games/72 starts), third base (45 games/28 starts), first base (eight games), outfield (five games/three starts) and one game at pitcher. He hit .229, with six doubles, two triples, eight RBI, and 10 runs scored in 47 games with New York in 2015.
Sizemore, 31, returns to the Nationals for his first full season after joining the organization on Aug. 22, 2015. A veteran infielder, Sizemore has played parts of four Major League seasons with Detroit (2010-11), Oakland (2011, 2013) and the New York Yankees (2014) and has experience playing third base (102 games/96 starts), second base (60 games/55 starts) and first base (two games/one start) at the Major League level. He began the 2015 season with Triple-A New Orleans before signing with Washington in late August. Sizemore hit .426 (20-for-47) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBI, six walks and seven runs scored in 14 games with Triple-A Syracuse.
Heisey, 31, spent the 2015 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays, on the heels of five seasons (2010-14) with the Cincinnati Reds. Since 2010, he leads active MLB pinch-hitters (min. 100 PA) with a .599 slugging percentage and 11 home runs and ranks among active MLB pinch hitters in hits (2nd, 40) and batting average (5th, .282) in 160 career pinch hit appearances. In his only season in Los Angeles’ chain, Heisey enjoyed four MLB stints (33 games) while clubbing 17 home runs in 83 Minor League games. He was released on Aug. 7 and signed with Toronto before being reacquired by the Dodgers on Sept. 1.
Johnson, 39, missed 131 games to injury during the 2015 season. A veteran of 13 Major League seasons, Johnson appeared in 12 of Washington’s 21 games in 2015 before being placed on the disabled list on April 29. He successfully rehabbed and returned to the active roster for the final week of the season and appeared in five of the final seven games of the 2015 season. He initially signed with the Nationals as a non-roster invitee on March 30, 2015.
The Nationals welcome Schafer, 29, who is joining the second professional organization of his career. Schafer spent parts of five Major League seasons (2011-15) with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has appeared in MLB games in center field (97 games), left field (76 games) and right field (33 games). He enjoyed two stints with the Brewers in 2015, including a spot on their Opening Day roster. He appeared in 69 games for Milwaukee, including 25 starts in center field, hitting .221 with six doubles, one triple, one home run, six RBI, 12 walks and 17 runs scored.
Brady, 28, was acquired by Washington with left-hander Trevor Gott from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Yunel Escobar on Dec. 10, 2015. Brady, who transitioned to a starter in 2015, has posted a 6.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio during his seven-year professional career. He made his first start of the season on May 26 vs. San Antonio and went 7-5 with a 3.95 ERA as a starter while striking out 99 batters against just 10 walks. In seven Minor League seasons, Brady has posted a 3.08 ERA while striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings.
Davis, 29, returns to the Nationals as a non-roster invitee after being designated for assignment on Jan. 6, 2016. He returned to the mound on May 8, 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 2, 2014. Davis went 1-2 with three saves and a 3.88 ERA in 37 games while striking out 47 batters in 48.2 innings pitched between Single-A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.
Giolito, 21, is tabbed by Baseball America as Washington’s top prospect as well as one of the best prospects in all of Major League Baseball. He will take part in his first Major League Spring Training in 2016 after going 7-7 with a 3.15 ERA in 21 games (19 starts) between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Giolito ranked second among Nationals farmhands in strikeouts (131) and fourth in ERA (3.15) in 2015. He has twice represented Washington in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game (2014 at MIN, 2015 at CIN). A first-round selection (No. 16 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Giolito is 19-10 with a 2.63 ERA and has posted 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings over his four-year professional career.
Hill, 26, enjoyed three stints with Washington in 2015, posting a 3.75 ERA in six appearances out of the bullpen. He was recalled for the first time on May 30 when Stephen Strasburg was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He allowed exactly one earned run in five of his six Major League appearances. Hill went 3-10 with a 5.23 ERA in 22 starts for Triple-A Syracuse in 2015 in between his stints with the Nationals.
Suero, 24, will take part in his first Major League Spring Training after advancing through Washington’s system. A non-drafted free agent out of Sabana Larga, Dominican Republic in 2010, the tall right-handed pitcher boasts an electric arm, a strong mound presence and the ability to start or come out of the bullpen. Suero began the 2015 season with Single-A Potomac before being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg. He went 7-4 with two saves and a 3.90 ERA in a career-high 33 games (five starts) between the stops.
Voth, 23, enters his first Major League Spring Training after coming off a 2015 season in which he was named Washington’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Voth enters 2016 rated as the No. 9 prospect in Washington’s system according to Baseball America. He led all Nationals farmhands with 148 strikeouts and ranked third in the organization with a 2.92 ERA. His 148 strikeouts ranked second in all of Double-A and were tied for ninth in all of Minor League Baseball. He spent the entire season at Double-A Harrisburg, going 6-7 with a 2.92 ERA in 28 games (27 starts). He led the Eastern League in strikeouts (148), strikeouts per nine innings (8.47) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.70). He also ranked among league leaders in hits per nine innings (2nd, 7.67), WHIP (5th, 1.11), home runs per nine innings (5th, 0.57), ERA (8th, 2.92) and walks per nine innings (9th, 2.29).
Martinson, 27, matched a career-high with 19 home runs in 2015, one behind Matt Skole (20) for the most among Nationals farmhands. Martinson has the ability to play nearly every position on the field, having appeared at shortstop (544 games), third base (88 games), left field (15 games), second base (five games) and right field (three games) during his six-year professional career. Martinson was named an International League mid-season All-Star in 2015 and was cited by Baseball America as having the “Best Infield Arm” in Washington’s system prior to the 2015 season.
Skole, 26, will take part in his fourth Major League Spring Training in 2016. The power-hitting corner infielder led Washington’s Minor League system in 2015 with 20 home runs and ranked second with 82 RBI. Skole played in a career-high 132 games for the second straight season and hit .234 with 23 doubles, one triple, 20 home runs, 82 RBI, 72 walks and 55 runs scored between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. His 12 home runs and 56 RBI with Harrisburg led the club, despite playing in only 90 games.
Campana, 29, enters his second season in the Nationals’ organization after signing a two-year Minor League contract, Aug. 10, 2015. He began 2015 with the Chicago White Sox before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in February. He was released and worked out on his own before joining the Nationals’ chain, reporting to the Nationals’ complex in Viera to continue his rehab. In 2014, he appeared in 44 Major League games between Arizona and Los Angeles (AL). Since 2011, his 80.0 stolen base percentage (66-for-75) is tied with Shane Victorino for the best in Major League Baseball.