Estrada agrees to deal with Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Johnny Estrada and the Nationals agreed to a $1.25 million, one-year contract Thursday, giving Washington an experienced catcher to back up Paul Lo Duca, who is recovering from knee surgery.

The 31-year-old Estrada is coming off knee and elbow operations and became a free agent last month when the New York Mets declined to offer him a contract for next season.

Estrada, a switch-hitter, played for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, batting .278 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs and drawing only 12 walks as part of a .296 on-base percentage. He threw out six of 79 base stealers.

The Brewers traded him to the Mets in the offseason.

An All-Star in 2004 with Atlanta, Estrada is a .280 career hitter with 42 homers and 281 RBIs in 589 games over seven major-league seasons. He also played for Philadelphia and Arizona.

Lo Duca, who signed a $5 million, one-year deal with Washington as a free agent, had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday. The Nationals also have catcher Jesus Flores, who never played above Double-A before last season.

The Nationals traded last season's starting catcher, Brian Schneider, to the Mets in December.

Estrada's deal includes $1.5 million in performance bonuses based on games started.

He would earn an extra $100,000 if he makes 70 starts and another $100,000 at 75 starts; an added $150,000 at each plateau if he reaches 80, 85, 90, 95, 100 and 105 starts; and an extra $200,000 each for 110 and 115 starts.