Report: Gonzalez chooses Brewers over Nats

Report: Gonzalez chooses Brewers over Nats
December 28, 2012, 2:30 pm
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The Nationals' options for left-handed bullpen help are dwindling after another southpaw from their 2012 staff chose to sign elsewhere.

Veteran Michael Gonzalez has come to terms on a one-year deal with the Brewers, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. He joins Tom Gorzelanny, another member of the Nationals' bullpen who migrated to Milwaukee this winter, and Sean Burnett, who got a two-year deal with the Angels.

Gonzalez had interest in returning to Washington next season, and the Nationals shared that interest, though apparently not enough to complete a deal. The 34-year-old posted a 3.03 ERA in 47 games, striking out 39 batters in 35 1/3 innings, and becoming a popular figure in a clubhouse that didn't boast many veteran pitchers.

The defections of Burnett, Gonzalez and Gorzelanny leave the Nationals scrambling a bit to fortify their bullpen with left-handers. At the moment, they have only Zach Duke (re-signed after a strong season at Class AAA Syracuse and a September call-up) and Bill Bray (a former first-round pick who spent the last seven years with the Reds but returned to the Nationals this winter on a minor-league deal).

There are a handful of unsigned left-handers still on the open market, most notably J.P. Howell, who has drawn interest from several clubs.

General manager Mike Rizzo could also seek to acquire a lefty via trade, especially if he ultimately re-signs first baseman Adam LaRoche and attempts to deal Michael Morse.

Even if they don't add another left-hander, the Nationals are confident in the ability of several of their right-handed relievers to retire hitters from the opposite side of the plate. Lefties hit just .170 last season against Tyler Clippard, .198 against Craig Stammen and .241 against Ryan Mattheus.