Washington Nationals Sign Dustin Antolin To Minor League Deal

This afternoon, the Washington Nationals signed former Blue Jays pitcher Dustin Antolin to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training

After signing four players to minor league deals with invites to spring training on Sunday, the Washington Nationals signed another player today. As Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweeted, the Nats signed former Blue Jays right-hander Dustin Antolin to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training this February:

Antolin has been in the Blue Jays organization since Toronto drafted him in the 11th round back in 2008 out of Milliani High School in Hawaii. The 27-year-old got called up last season to pitch in the big leagues, but only made one appearance (May 16, 2016). In that relief appearance for J.A. Happ, Antolin gave up three runs on four hits in two innings. All three runs came on a home run from Curt Casali.

Last season, Antolin spent the whole season at triple-A Buffalo. He went 2-3 with a 2.04 ERA in 46 games and had ten saves in 13 chances. His strikeout rate of 10.4 K’s per nine innings was the second highest of his career, but he did walk 4.8 batters per nine innings (highest of his career).

At triple-A, Antolin was named to the International League All-Star team. He held opponents to a .214 batting average while giving up only three home runs in 53 innings.

After a bad month of May (5.06 ERA), he gave up four runs over the final 29 appearances of his season. His ERA in the second half of the season was 1.06 in 16 games (opponents hit .177). He even had one start this past season (April 23 against Rochester) when he struck out five, walked two, and didn’t give up a hit in 3.1 innings.

It was a long road for Antolin just to even make it to the big leagues and it hasn’t gone without its fair share of difficulties. In 2010, Antolin underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and didn’t come back until June 23, 2011.

The Washington Nationals have now reportedly signed three pitchers to minor league deals with invites to spring training. Derek Eitel and Braulio Lara were the two pitchers that the Nats announced on Sunday.

So, what kind of pitcher is Antolin? To get some more insight on the reliever and his possible chances of helping the Washington Nationals next season, I spoke with the editor of Jays Journal, Keegan Matheson. Here are his thoughts:

“Ideally for the Nationals, they’ll have some depth ahead of Antolin in the minors. He’s a capable arm, though, and can touch 94 MPH with a slider and changeup while striking out a batter per inning. He’s not a pitcher the Nationals should be relying on for meaningful innings, but if injuries really deplete their MLB bullpen, he can hold his own for a few outings.”

As always, the Nats aren’t taking much risk here with a minor league deal and they have the depth in their bullpen. However, even if Antolin were to play at triple-A Syracuse in 2017 to start the year, you never know when Antolin might get a shot at the big league level if there is an injury.

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