VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the signing of right-hander Chris Young to a Minor League contract on Thursday was made with the intent of adding pitching depth.
Young made 20 starts for the Mets last season, going 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 115 innings. He was coming off serious right shoulder issues that had limited him to a combined eight games over the previous two seasons.
However, the 33-year-old Young had success against the Nationals last year, posting a 3.00 ERA in three starts against Washington. Young is best known for his years with the Padres. His best season was in 2006, when he went 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA. In nine big league seasons, Young is 53-43 with a 3.79 ERA.
"He is a veteran Major League starting pitcher," Rizzo said. "He has had success not only in this league, but in our division, specifically. He gives us the depth that we were looking for coming into Spring Training. It's part of our plan to be as deep as we can.
"We have a good, young pitching staff, but it's hard to count on five starters throughout the whole season. We are taking precautions in case something was to happen. We have a legitimate, quality Major League pitcher in the fold."
Young said he wanted to play for a winning organization.
"I played against these guys for a while and they're extremely talented. That factored in the decision greatly," Young said. "All things considered, I felt it was a place I wanted to be."
This will be Young's second tour of duty with the Nationals' organization. He spent one season in the Expos' Minor League system before being traded to the Rangers for right-hander Justin Echols and catcher Einar Diaz. Rizzo hinted that Young has an out clause in his contract.
"I'll cross that bridge when I get there," Young said. "Right now, for me, it's just about pitching no matter where I am. I got to pitch and I got to pitch well. That's my focus right now. And all that other stuff, it's stuff I can't control and stuff I won't worry about. I'm just going to go out, pitch the best I can wherever that is and make the most of it."
After the 2010 season, the Nationals had interest in re-acquiring Young, but they passed because they didn't like the results of an MRI exam on his throwing shoulder. Young will likely get a chance to pitch for the Nationals once left-handers Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez go to the World Baseball Classic.
"He is on a throwing program," Rizzo said about Young. "We are going to see him today, and we'll [gauge] exactly where he is at."
Young indicated that he is close to being game ready.
"I'm as close to that as I can possibly be," Young said. "That last couple of years, it was sort of a rehab program. This year, it was a normal throwing program. Arm strength is built up by throwing multiple bullpens. It feels good."