Nationals Announce 2015 Non-Roster Invitees

Pitchers and Catchers to report to Viera, Fla. by February 19

The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Heath Bell, right-handed pitcher Bruce Billings, right-handed pitcher Manny Delcarmen, right-handed pitcher Mitch Lively, right-handed pitcher Scott McGregor, right-handed pitcher Evan Meek, catcher Steve Lerud, infielder Emmanuel Burriss, first baseman Kila Ka'aihue, first baseman Clint Robinson, third baseman Ian Stewart, second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Mike Carp on Minor-League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. In addition, the Nationals extended Spring Training invites to right-handed pitcher Eric Fornataro, right-handed pitcher Rafael Martin, left-handed pitcher Matt Purke, catcher Spencer Kieboom, catcher Pedro Severino, infielder Cutter Dykstra and first baseman Matt Skole. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Pitchers and catchers are slated to report to the Nationals' Spring Training facility in Viera, Fla., by Thursday, Feb. 19. Washington's position players will report by Tuesday, Feb. 24, and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 26.

Bell joins the Nationals after appearing in 13 games with the Tampa Bay Rays before stints with Triple-A Norfolk (BAL) and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY). The Nationals will be his sixth organization since signing with the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1998. He was one of the premier closers in MLB from 2009-13, tallying 166 saves for three separate clubs, third most in MLB over that span. Bell appeared in three All-Star Games and took home the 2009 and 2010 NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.

Billings is a veteran of eight Minor League seasons and brings with him experience as a starter and reliever. He has accumulated a 65-61 record while posting a 4.08 ERA in 217 Minor League appearances (145 starts). Billings made his MLB debut with Colorado on May 27, 2011 vs. STL. He appeared in one game for the Yankees in 2014 (April 25 vs. LAA).

Burriss, a Washington D.C. native and graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, returns for his second season with his hometown organization after spending the 2014 season with Triple-A Syracuse. He earned International League All-Star honors after hitting .300 with 18 doubles, seven triples, six homers, 46 RBI, 22 stolen bases and 80 runs scored. He ranked among IL hitters in runs scored (3rd, 80), triples (T3rd, 7), batting average (T7th, .300), and on-base percentage (9th, .377) while his .300 batting average was tied for fifth among Nationals farmhands.

Carp is a versatile defender who has appeared in Major League games at first base (143 games/122 starts) and outfield (110 games/90 starts). In 2013, he set career marks in nearly every offensive category, starting 56 games for the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. He spent the 2014 season with the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers.

Delcarmen returns for his second season with the Nationals organization. He went 4-4 with four saves and a 3.13 ERA in 46 games out of the Triple-A Syracuse bullpen. Delcarmen struck out 8.2 batters per nine innings and improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 2.39. He surrendered just two home runs in 60.1 innings.

Dykstra advanced to Double-A for the first time in his career in 2014. He was named an Eastern League mid-season All-Star after hitting .297 with 15 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 43 RBI, 10 stolen bases and 39 runs scored in the season's first half.

Fornataro is a former St. Louis Cardinals farmhand who came to Washington on a waiver claim following the 2014 season. He began his professional career as a starter, but has transitioned to a relief role over the last three seasons. As a reliever, he is 9-12 with 21 saves and a 3.40 ERA (69 ER/182.2 IP) in 141 Minor League appearances. Fornataro made his Major League debut in 2014, posting a 4.66 ERA in eight appearances for the Cardinals.

Ka'aihue returns to the United States after spending the previous season-and-a-half with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball where he hit .258 with 20 doubles, 25 home runs, 85 RBI, 77 walks and 56 runs scored in 156 games spanning the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He has appeared in 126 Major League games over parts of four seasons with Kansas City (2008-11) and Oakland (2012).

Kieboom is coming off his most productive season, bouncing back from 2013 "Tommy John" surgery by hitting .309 with 28 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 61 RBI in 87 games for Single-A Hagerstown. He was named a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star and a MiLB.com Organization All-Star. He was tasked with handling one of the most talented pitching staffs in Minor League Baseball. Following the season, Kieboom hit .324 with two doubles, one home run, seven RBI and three runs scored for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Clemson (SC) University.

Lerud comes to the Nationals after playing in 60 games for Triple-A Gwinnett, Atlanta's International League affiliate. He hit .250 with nine doubles, one triple, four home runs and 19 RBI.

Lively returns to the Nationals after signing with the organization in July of 2014. He has made the transition from reliever to starting pitcher over the last two seasons. As a reliever, he is 22-19 with 14 saves and a 3.76 ERA in 212 career appearances. In 42 career starts, he is 16-9 with a 4.10 ERA. He began the 2014 season in his third stint with Triple-A Fresno (SFG) and went 6-4 with a 5.08 ERA in 22 games/15 starts. He was released by the Giants on July 13 and joined Washington's system a week later. Lively reported to Triple-A Syracuse where he went 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA in nine games/seven starts for the Chiefs.

Martin advanced through three levels of Washington's Minor League system in 2014, going 3-2 with 11 saves and a 1.39 ERA (9 ER/58.1 IP) while striking out 66 batters and holding opposing hitters to a .171 batting average. He did not allow an earned run from May 16 to Aug. 17, a span of 29 games (46.1 IP) between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse (3-0, 8 SV, 56 K, 7 BB, .167 avg). His 11 saves were fourth among Nationals farmhands. Martin was named a MiLB.com Organization All-Star following the season.

McGregor is a former St. Louis farmhand who joined the Nationals in June of 2014 and reported to Double-A Harrisburg. He was promoted to Syracuse in August. He went a combined 3-3 with 4.64 ERA (27 ER/52.1 IP) in 12 games/10 starts between the two levels.

Meek comes to Washington after spending the 2014 season with Baltimore. The former All-Star (PIT, 2010) enjoyed five separate stints with the Orioles, going 0-4 with a 5.79 ERA in 23 appearances. He went 2-0 with 16 saves and a 1.94 ERA in 39 games for Triple-A Norfolk. His 16 saves were tied for seventh in the International League.

Purke appeared in eight games for Double-A Harrisburg before undergoing "Tommy John" ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow, May 28, 2014.

Robinson is a left-handed power-hitting first baseman who also excels at hitting for average and has excellent plate discipline (career 6.46 PA/K ratio). Robinson is a career .300/.381/.510 hitter in 921 games spanning eight Minor League seasons. He appeared in nine games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014, going 3-for-9 (.333) with two RBI and three runs scored.

Severino is considered the "Best Defensive Catcher" in the Nationals' chain, per Baseball America, and will enter the 2015 season rated as Washington's top catching prospect and No. 13 prospect overall. The Bonao, Dominican Republic native advanced to Single-A Potomac for the first time in 2014, hitting .247 with 15 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 36 RBI in 94 games.

Skole returned to full strength in 2014 following 2013 "Tommy John" ligament replacement surgery, playing in 132 games for Double-A Harrisburg. He hit .241 with 29 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 68 RBI, 78 walks and 58 runs scored for the Senators. He ranked second in the Eastern league with 78 walks and, following the season, was named an Organization All-Star by MiLB.com.

Stewart was a member of the Los Angeles Angels' Opening Day roster in 2014, playing in 24 games before landing on the disabled list with a left-hand contusion. The power-hitting lefthander has played parts of seven MLB seasons with three clubs, including Colorado (2007-11), Chicago-NL (2012) and Los Angeles (2014).

Uggla joins the Nationals after spending the previous four seasons (2011-14) with Atlanta and San Francisco. His 233 home runs as a second baseman lead all active players. Uggla is the only player in Major League history, whose primary position was second base, to begin his career with six consecutive 20+ home run seasons.