The Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract bringing veteran left-handed reliever Luis Avilan back to the organization, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter).
Avilan, 32, underwent Tommy John surgery last April and was thus limited to five innings with the Nats. He allowed an unsightly seven runs in that time, but the southpaw has a strong track record dating back to his 2012 MLB debut with the Braves. In 349 big league innings from 2012-20, Avilan worked to a combined 3.30 ERA with a 21.5% strikeout rate, a 9.4% walk rate and a strong 50.3% ground-ball rate.
As with most southpaw relievers, Avilan has been better against lefties than against righties, though he’s far from a pure specialist. Left-handed batters have posted a feeble .204/.279/.281 slash against him through 686 plate appearances, while right-handers carry a decent but hardly dominant .262/.347/.387 output through 805 trips to the plate.
Given the time of his surgery, Avilan will spend Spring Training rehabbing the injury and likely won’t be an option for the Nationals until the summer. If he’s healthy, he can give the Nats a solid lefty in the bullpen and perhaps a modestly priced trade chip if he rounds back into form prior to the end of July.