The Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract with left-handed reliever Neal Cotts, tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports that the veteran 36-year-old (37 in March) will receive an invite to Major League Spring Training. Cotts is represented by Pro Star Management.
Cotts didn’t pitch in the Majors last season and had a three-year layoff from MLB action from 2010-12, but he pitched very well for three teams in the interim. From 2013-15, Cotts tallied 187 innings out of the bullpen for the Rangers, Brewers and Twins, posting a collective 3.03 ERA with 186 strikeouts against 57 unintentional walks. As one might expect, he was most effective against left-handed batters in that time, limiting same-handed opponents to a .212/.278/.356 batting line in 317 plate appearances. However, Cotts also held his own against righties, limiting even those with the platoon advantage to a reasonable .236/.313/.371 slash in 461 plate appearances.
The 2016 season saw Cotts sign a slew of minor league deals, but he never made it back to the Majors despite solid results at the Triple-A level. Cotts totaled 44 2/3 innings of work between the Triple-A affiliates for the Rangers, Yankees and Angels last year, registering a 3.83 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 while limiting left-handed opponents to a .220/.277/.322 batting line in 66 plate appearances. With the Nationals, he’ll compete for a bullpen job in Spring Training, although left-handed relief isn’t a massive need for Washington. The Nats have both Sammy Solis and Oliver Perez as southpaws in the big league bullpen, with Matt Grace serving as another option on the 40-man roster.