Jesus Flores, cut loose by the Nationals in November, has found a new home in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers have signed the 28-year-old catcher to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league spring training, according to multiple reports.
Once considered the Nationals' long-term answer behind the plate, Flores saw his promising career in D.C. get derailed by a major shoulder injury that sidelined him most of 2009 and all of 2010. Finally healthy again lat season, he got a chance to re-assume everyday catching duties after starter Wilson Ramos suffered a torn ACL but struggled to produce while dealing with the heavy workload, hitting .213 with a .248 on-base percentage in 83 games.
The midseason acquisition of veteran Kurt Suzuki forced Flores back to the bench, where he remained through the playoffs. The Nationals then elected not to tender him a contract before the Nov. 30 deadline, cutting ties altogether and making him a free agent.
Flores should have a reasonable shot at making the Dodgers' Opening Day lineup as the primary backup to A.J. Ellis. The only other catcher on Los Angeles' 40-man roster is 25-year-old Tim Federowicz, who has only 10 games of big-league experience.
Originally acquired from the Mets via the 2006 Rule 5 draft, Flores initially served as understudy to Brian Schneider and then Paul Lo Duca before being handed the starting job midway through the 2008 season. He got off to a strong start in 2009, hitting .301 with four homers through his first 29 games but then took a foul ball off his right shoulder and fractured a bone.
Thus began a two-year rehab process for Flores, who wound up suffering a torn labrum while attempting to return from the initial fracture. By the time he was 100 percent healthy again, the Nationals had acquired Ramos, who himself now must re-earn his starting job following knee surgery and the acquisition of Suzuki.