Right-handed hurler Henderson Alvarez has reportedly inked a minor-league deal with the Nationals that includes a spring invite. It appears that Ángel D. Conde Trujillo had the news first on Twitter, with multiple stateside reporters tweeting the signing as well this evening.
Alvarez, 28, is again trying to make his way back to the majors after his career was derailed by shoulder woes. The former Marlins hurler, who signed with but never threw for the Athletics in 2016, appeared briefly with the Phillies in 2017 but did not pitch in affiliated ball in the most recent season.
While he was away, Alvarez did throw in the Mexican League. He turned in 120 2/3 innings in the Mexican League, working to a 3.58 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. Alvarez has also been pitching in winter ball in his native Venezuela, where he has allowed twenty earned runs on 43 hits over 30 2/3 frames while recording just ten strikeouts and five walks.
Needless to say, those numbers don’t inspire confidence. But it’s fair to note that Alvarez has never been a strikeout pitcher. Indeed, he barely averaged more than a strikeout every other inning as a big leaguer. But he did pitch to a 3.82 ERA in 577 2/3 career MLB innings, owing in large part to his ability to limit the free passes (2.2 BB/9) and long balls (0.87 HR/9) while churning out groundballs (54.8% GB%).
For the Nationals, Alvarez is simply a player who’ll have a chance to show something in camp. The big question, perhaps, is whether he’ll be able to regain some of his lost velocity. After sitting at 94 with his four-seamer and sinker from 2011 to 2014, Alvarez clocked in at less than 92 mph with both pitches during his injury-shortened 2015 effort and short-lived 2017 return.