Nats sign Lidge to 1-year deal

Nats sign Lidge to 1-year deal
January 26, 2012, 4:11 pm
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Updated at 11:49 a.m.

In search of a veteran reliever who could help soften the burden on late-inning stars Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, the Nationals are turning to a one-time nemesis from a division rival.

The Nationals have come to terms on a one-year contract with former Phillies closer Brad Lidge, the club announced this morning. The deal will pay the 35-year-old a 1 million base salary, with incentives, according to CSNphilly.com's Jim Salisbury.

Lidge has extensive experience closing in both Houston and Philadelphia, but in Washington he'll be used as a setup man, probably pitching the seventh inning in front of Clippard and Storen.

Though injuries and inconsistent performances cost him the closing job with the Phillies, Lidge did put up strong numbers last season when healthy. In 25 games, he posted a 1.40 ERA, striking out 23 in 19 13 innings.

One red flag, though: Lidge's fastball velocity has dropped significantly over the years, from an average of 95.8 mph in 2007 to only 89.3 mph in 2011.

That said, the Nationals aren't counting on Lidge to be the dominant, late-inning bulldog who saved 221 games from 2004 to 2010. He's more of an insurance policy, another arm added to what was already one of the majors' strongest bullpens in 2011.

As things stand, that relief corps is expected to include Storen, Clippard, Lidge, left-handers Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny, right-hander Henry Rodriguez and whichever of three starters fails to make the Opening Day rotation: Ross Detwiler, John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang.