01/26/12 3:24 PM EST
Nats bring Lidge on board with one-year deal
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Teams such as the Rockies and Phillies expressed interest in Lidge, but he joined the Nats after having great conversations with general manager Mike Rizzo.
"The process gets kind of long-winded at times," Lidge said via telephone. "Sometimes teams take their time responding to you, but Mike Rizzo did an outstanding job of communicating to me that he wanted me and wanted to talk to me.
"I think the Nationals are a team that is very close to being a playoff-caliber team. To me, it was a great fit. I really enjoy playing in Washington. Besides that, it's a team that is going in the right direction. I think that is pretty obvious."
Lidge will join a bullpen that includes right-handers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Besides providing leadership to a bunch of young relievers, Lidge will be one of the team's setup men. Lidge spoke to Storen, the team's closer, before agreeing to terms with the Nationals.
"I think Drew is going to be an outstanding closer," Lidge said. "He has already done really well in the league. I'll be happy to share my knowledge and everything else. Obviously, Clippard has done great there. It's going to be exciting to be part of that bullpen."
Clippard is one person who can't wait to learn from a veteran like Lidge.
"We obviously know what kind of pitcher Brad has been in the past and the things he has accomplished in his career," Clippard said. "You have myself, Drew -- everyone will benefit from his presence and experience. Hopefully, we'll get to talk to him a little bit. I'm sure he will be able to help us out, more so mentally than anything else. That's the most difficult part about being a reliever -- the mental grind on a daily basis. Hopefully, he will take some of the work load off of us, too. It's a great thing that we signed him."
Lidge has spent the past four seasons with Philadelphia. Last year, Lidge spent time on the disabled list because of shoulder problems. When he returned to action, Lidge appeared in 25 games and had a 1.40 ERA.
As recently as 2008, Lidge was one of the best closers in baseball, helping the Phillies win their first World Series title since 1980.
On that '08 team was outfielder Jayson Werth, who is happy to be reunited with Lidge.
"Brad is one of the more interesting teammates I've had, not your average athlete," Werth said in an e-mail to MLB.com. "Very intelligent on and off the field. He will bring culture to our clubhouse along with his nasty slider. Good guy, glad we got him, he will be a perfect fit for our young talented bullpen."
Lidge, who went to the University of Notre Dame, started his Major League career with the Astros in 2002. He has saved 223 games with a 3.44 ERA during his career, and his best season was in '08, when he saved 41 games and had a 1.95 ERA.
Lidge is a two-time National League All-Star (2005, '08) and was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year in '08. Lidge did not suffer a single blown save in 48 chances that year, including the postseason.
Lidge has tallied 30 or more saves in a season four times, and his 157-strikeout campaign of 2004 established a new NL single-season mark for strikeouts in relief.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.