Nationals sign reliever Coffey

Nationals sign reliever Coffey
January 19, 2011, 5:10 pm
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 12:08 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman


The Nationals have agreed to terms with Todd Coffey on a contract, a source familiar with the deal confirmed this morning, adding a veteran reliever to an already-deep bullpen.

Coffey, 30, must pass a physical before the deal is completed. Contract terms aren't immediately known.

The right-hander went 2-4 with a 4.76 ERA in 69 appearances for the Brewers last season, hampered during the second half by a thumb injury. Eligible for arbitration and in position to receive a raise from his 2.025 million salary, he was non-tendered by Milwaukee last month and became a free agent.

Coffey owns a 19-17 record, a 4.15 ERA and 11 saves in 369 career appearances over six seasons with the Brewers and Reds. A husky figure at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he's made a name for himself over the years for sprinting to the mound when summoned from the bullpen.

Nationals relievers posted a collective 3.35 ERA last season, the fifth-best mark in the majors. Most of the unit returns intact, including Drew Storen, Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard, Doug Slaten and Collin Balester. Young flame-throwers Henry Rodriguez and Elvin Ramirez were added via trade and the Rule 5 draft earlier this winter.

Though it's a deep group, the bullpen still lacks an experienced closer. Team officials believe Storen (who was 5-for-7 in save situations as a rookie) will eventually ascend to that role but are reluctant to hand the job to him at this stage.

Meanwhile, Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to arrive in Washington today to undergo a physical, the final step in completing his trade from the Cubs in exchange for minor-leaguers Michael Burgess, A.J. Morris and Graham Hicks.

Gorzelanny, projected to serve as the Nationals' No. 4 or No. 5 starter, came to terms with the Cubs yesterday on a one-year, 2.1 million contract. The Nationals will assume that contract.

General manager Mike Rizzo is expected to hold a conference call with reporters this afternoon to discuss the trade.