The Nationals have re-signed right-hander Aaron Barrett, tweets Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. The team’s official transactions page, unsurprisingly, specifies that Barrett’s contract is of the minor league variety. He’s represented by Excel Sports.
The 29-year-old Barrett was once a setup man with the Nats but underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2015 campaign. Last year, as he rehabbed from that injury, he suffered a fractured elbow, thus necessitating a second surgery. For the time being, Barrett is working out at the team’s Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., according to Janes.
Barrett hasn’t thrown a pitch in the Majors since August of 2015, but prior to his initial ligament tear he’d taken on a late-inning role in former manager Matt Williams’ bullpen and handled it quite well. In 70 Major League innings between the 2014 and 2015 campaigns, Barrett pitched to a 3.47 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate and a fastball that averaged 93.8 mph. The former ninth-round pick was strong against right-handed and left-handed opponents, limiting righties to a paltry .225/.299/.294 while holding opposite-handed batters to a .239/.333/.337 slash.
It remains unclear exactly how far along Barrett is in his recovery from last year’s elbow fracture, but he’s now more than eight months removed from that unfortunate setback. Certainly, the Nationals will be cautious as he looks to return to full health for the first time in 18 months, though, so Nats fans probably shouldn’t expect to see Barrett pushing for a spot in the very near future. But we’ve seen players return from elbow fractures in less than a year’s time (e.g. Gavin Floyd in 2015) so it’s not unreasonable to think that Barrett could be back to full strength at some point this summer.