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Nationals sign David Goforth to minor league deal

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The Nationals have signed free agent reliever David Goforth to a minor league deal, the team confirmed Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training.

Goforth, 29, completed his third campaign with the Brewers in 2017. The right-hander lasted just four days in the majors, tossing one scoreless inning before getting reassigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs for the rest of the year. In Triple-A, he produced a 3.98 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 in 54 1/3 innings and elected free agency following the conclusion of the season in October.

While Goforth has found moderate success after converting from the rotation to the bullpen in 2014, he’ll serve as bullpen depth with limited major league experience and spotty command. Over three years in the majors, the righty racked up just 36 1/3 total innings and has yet to earn a full-time role. Still, he gives the club another right-handed arm with a habit of staying healthy, which could be just what the Nationals need as they cross their fingers for productive seasons from injury-plagued righties Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover in 2018.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉