The Nationals announced three minor league deals today, one of which was the previously-reported deal with infielder Michael Chavis. The other two were for left-handers Anthony Banda and Francisco Pérez. All three players will receive invitations to major league Spring Training.
Banda, 29, has seen sporadic major league time in each of the past six seasons, suiting up for the Diamondbacks, Rays, Mets, Pirates, Blue Jays and Yankees. Over the past two seasons, he’s thrown 60 1/3 innings with a 5.37 ERA while striking out 21.5% of batters faced and walking 9% of them. Those peripherals are fairly close to league average and it’s possible he wasn’t quite as bad as that unsightly ERA might suggest. A .387 batting average on balls in play in that stretch probably hurt him, as his 4.74 FIP and 4.11 SIERA suggested he deserved better.
Banda is out of options and has bounced around to various teams via small transactions in recent years. He began 2022 with the Pirates before getting designated for assignment and traded to the Jays for cash. The Jays also gave him the DFA treatment shortly thereafter, which was followed by a minor league deal with the Mariners, a major league deal with the Yankees and an outright. If he can make his way onto Washington’s roster and have some good results, he has just over two years of service time and can be retained via arbitration for the foreseeable future.
Pérez, 25, has spent most of his career in Cleveland’s system, with that club selecting him onto their 40-man roster in 2021. He only made four big league appearances that year but tossed 53 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with a 1.86 ERA and 38.1% strikeout rate. His walks were certainly high at 13.5% but it was an encouraging season nonetheless. He was claimed off waivers by the Nationals after that campaign, but things didn’t go as smooth in 2022. He posted a 7.27 ERA over 10 big league appearances and a 4.82 ERA over 45 Triple-A appearances. He still got strikeouts on 29.9% of Triple-A batters faced, but he walked 15.7% of them and also 18.8% of those he faced in the majors.
Pérez was outrighted at season’s end and elected free agency but has now returned to the Nats without taking up a roster spot. He still has an option year remaining and can be shuffled between the majors and minors if he earns his way back onto the 40-man. He also has less than a year of service time and could be controlled for years to come if the Nats so choose.
The Nationals currently have four left-handers on their 40-man roster, with Patrick Corbin and MacKenzie Gore both likely ticketed for rotation jobs. That leaves Jose Ferrer and Matt Cronin as the two lefty options for the bullpen. Both of them were just added to the club’s roster in November to protect against selection in the Rule 5 draft, meaning neither has any MLB experience. Banda and Pérez give the club some more-experienced options for southpaws to plug into their bullpen for the upcoming campaign.