Nationals complete deal with Cuban righty Yunesky Maya

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D.J. brought us the initial news on Saturday evening and now the deal has been made official.

The Nationals have agreed to terms with Cuban pitcher Yunesky Maya on a four-year, $8 million contract, according to Jorge Ebro of the El Nuevo Herald.  He will begin his state-side professional career at the Nationals’ spring training complex in Viera, Florida, but he should rise quickly through the club’s farm system.

The 28-year-old right-hander was 48-29 with a 2.51 ERA over six seasons in Cuba and was a star on the Cuban national team in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic.  Washington GM Mike Rizzo and Co. will hope that he can develop right alongside Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg and turn the Nationals into a club with quality rotation depth in less than a year.

Ryan Zimmerman’s spring training has been . . . weird

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.

While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.

Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.

I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.

On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.