Brad Lidge had a busy day on Thursday. After signing a one-year, $1 million deal with the Nationals, Lidge was inducted into the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame during the ‘Evening With The Zephyrs’ cocktail party. The 35-year-old righty reliever was charming as he reminisced about his time with the Triple-A Zephyrs and humble-bragged about his clubhouse ping-pong skills. I even managed to turn my attention away from the duck quesadillas long enough to enjoy his speech.
Lidge only appeared in 19.1 innings for the Phillies last season due to a rotator cuff injury. While there were several teams linked to Lidge, the $1 million plus incentives is quite the paycut from his $12 million salary in 2011. The injury was clearly a big red flag but Lidge wasn’t worried about it. “My shoulder is completely healed, it feels good. I kept telling people that. My MRI [with the Nationals] came out clean,” Lidge told me at the event just outside of the French Quarter.
I asked Lidge about his role with the Nationals in 2012 and it’s clear he’ll be the 7th inning guy to “bridge the gap” to Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen. He seemed at peace with the departure from his previous closer and set-up roles. Lidge also glowed about the opportunity to relieve Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann and it’s hard to blame him.
The Angels had rumored interest in Lidge who could have been a nice mentor for closer Jordan Walden. Lidge confirmed the talks with the Angels but they were “concerned about his medicals” and told him “if he got another offer to take it.” Tired of sitting around on January 25, Lidge was happy when the Nationals stepped up with a contract.
Lidge was a complete class-act and a surprisingly accurate 6’5. The one-year, $1 million deal could be a steal for the Nats if Lidge is right about his shoulder. If healthy, he will be a valuable asset as member of the bullpen if the Nationals are contending or as a trade chip if they fall short by July.
Let’s not forget the guy has a career 11.95 K/9 ratio. He is really good at throwing baseballs past people.