The Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract with reliever Robert Gsellman, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (X link). He’ll be paid at a $900K rate for any time spent on the MLB roster.
Gsellman returns to affiliated ball after a year and a half in Japan. The right-hander initially signed with the Yokohama BayStars midway through the 2022 campaign. He turned in a 2.66 ERA in 20 1/3 innings down the stretch to secure a new contract last winter.
His second season in Yokohama wasn’t as successful. He allowed 4.45 earned runs per nine over 64 2/3 frames at the highest level. The BayStars sent him to the minors for a point, where he posted a 4.85 ERA through 52 innings. Throwing strikes was an issue for the 30-year-old hurler. He walked 11.3% of batters faced in his time at the NPB level. He paired that with a middling 14.7% strikeout percentage.
The Southern California native has spent over a decade in the professional ranks. Drafted by the Mets in the 13th round in 2011, he pitched his way towards the top of the New York farm system before his 2016 debut. He spent parts of six seasons in Queens, moving to the bullpen by 2018. Gsellman pitched to a 4.59 ERA over 350 2/3 frames as a Met. New York non-tendered him after the 2021 campaign. He saw limited action with the Cubs in ’22 before signing with the BayStars.
Washington had a well below-average bullpen last season, which isn’t surprising for a rebuilding team. The Nats finished 27th with a 5.02 ERA from their relief corps. Kyle Finnegan, Jordan Weems, Dylan Floro, Hunter Harvey and Tanner Rainey are strong bets to hold Opening Day jobs. That could leave two or three middle relief spots up for grabs, although they’re likely carry at least one left-hander in the group.