The Braves signed veteran left-hander Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, where he’ll compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, a person familiar with the situation said.
He’ll get a $2 million base salary if he makes the major league roster, and Rodriguez will likely compete for the last rotation spot with David Hale, former Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos, lefty reliever James Russell and perhaps Chien-Ming Wang, a former Cy Young Award runner-up who signed a minor league contract two months ago.
Rodriguez, 35, reportedly agreed to terms on a contract with the Phillies in late December but failed his physical after flying to Philadelphia to finalize the deal. Various injuries, including a forearm strain, limited him to 18 major league starts in the past two seasons, and he was 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts with Pittsburgh in 2014.
He has a 91-94 record and 4.06 ERA in 258 games (248 starts) over 10 major league seasons, including 80-84 in 8 1/2 seasons with the Astros.
The Braves decided to pursue Rodriguez after seeing him pitch in the Dominican Winter League, where he allowed one run and five hits in seven innings of his first two starts before Tuesday. He’s pitching for Aguilas, which has also had other Braves offseason acquisitions on its roster at various times this winter, including relievers Sugar Ray Marimon and lefty Donnie Veal, and outfielder Zoilo Almonte.
Once a fixture at or near the top of the Astros rotation, Rodriguez won nine or more games in eight consecutive seasons through 2012 with the Astros and Pirates, and during each of the last four seasons in that period he won 11 or more games while posting ERAs of 3.76 or lower in 191 or more innings.
Rodriguez had a career-best season in 2009, going 14-12 with a 3.02 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 205 2/3 innings.
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