WASHINGTON (AP) — Trevor Rosenthal’s return from Tommy John surgery will come with the Washington Nationals after the former St. Louis Cardinals closer agreed in principle to a 2019 contract, according to two people familiar with the deal.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Wednesday because the Nationals had not announced that they would be signing Rosenthal, who still needed to pass a physical to make the move official.
He missed all of last season after reconstructive surgery on his pitching elbow in 2017.
One person told the AP that Rosenthal gets a one-year contract that guarantees $7 million and allows him a chance to earn an additional $8 million in performance bonuses. According to that person, Rosenthal’s salary next year will be $6 million, and the agreement includes a $15 million conditional player option for 2020 that kicks in if Rosenthal appears in 50 games next year or has 30 games finished. The option has a $1 million buyout Rosenthal would get if the conditions for the player option are not met.
The 28-year-old Rosenthal is a hard-throwing righty reliever with 121 career saves in the majors, all with the Cardinals. That includes a career-high 48 saves in 2015, when he was an NL All-Star, and 45 the year before.
He had only 14 saves in 2016, and 11 in 2017 before getting injured. Rosenthal was released by the Cardinals in November 2017, a few months after having surgery.
The Nationals added Rosenthal as their first free-agent signing of the offseason two days after picking up lefty closer Sean Doolittle’s $6 million contract option for 2019.
While more moves for relievers are likely, and adding starting pitching is also a priority, the No. 1 question facing the club is whether it will re-sign free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper.
Washington finished 82-80 in 2018, in second place in the NL East and out of the playoffs. It won the division each of the previous two seasons.