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12/23/2008 7:37 PM ET
Nationals sign five players to Minor League contracts
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The Washington Nationals have signed infielder Jose Castillo, outfielder Corey Patterson, catcher Gustavo Molina, right-handed pitcher Jorge Sosa and left-handed pitcher Gustavo Chacin to minor league contracts. Nationals Director of Player Development Bobby Williams made the announcement.

The 27-year-old Castillo appeared in 127 games last season with San Francisco and Houston, batting a combined .246 (105-for-426) with six home runs and 37 RBI. A second baseman by trade, he played primarily at third base last season with a handful of appearances up the middle. Castillo, who began his career with Pittsburgh from 2004-07, has hit .254 (487-for-1918) with 39 home runs and 218 RBI during his five-year tenure in the major leagues.

Chacin is 25-15 with a 4.18 ERA during his major league career, including 58 starts with Toronto from 2004-07. The left-hander has finished with a .500 record or better in each of his four big league seasons, reaching his apex with a 13-5 record and 3.72 ERA in 34 starts with Toronto in 2005. The 28-year-old made 11 starts last season with Dunedin of the Single-A Florida State League, after having his 2007 season ended prematurely by a left shoulder injury.

Molina is a solid defensive catcher who has served in the big leagues each of the last two seasons with New York-NL (2008), Chicago-AL (2007) and Baltimore ('07). He appeared in two games last season with New York-NL and saw action in 74 games with New Orleans in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The 26-year-old threw out 24 of 59 (41 percent) of attempted basestealers last year with Triple-A New Orleans.

Patterson has been one of baseball's steadiest defensive center fielders during his nine-year career in the big leagues. He provides a rare mix of speed and power at the plate, accumulating 177 stolen bases and 98 home runs over the last seven seasons (2002-08). Only five other players in the big leagues have reached those numbers over that span: Jimmy Rollins, Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltran and Johnny Damon. The 29-year-old has recorded 182 career stolen bases and has reached the 30-steal plateau three times, including a career-best 45 stolen bases with Baltimore in 2006.

Sosa has pitched both as a starter and reliever during his seven-year big league career. Working exclusively out of the bullpen last season for New York-NL he achieved a 4-1 record, and he is 13-9 in 62 games (14 starts) over his last two seasons (2007-08). He produced his best single-season numbers with Atlanta in 2005, going 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 44 games (20 starts). Sosa has been especially tough against the National League during his career, earning a 27-22 record with two saves and a 4.13 ERA in 151 games (45 starts) against opponents in the senior circuit.

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