Trevor Williams says he'll return to starting role with Nats

WASHINGTON -- Trevor Williams showed last season that he could be a versatile part of a pitching staff, mixing in nine starts and 21 relief appearances. Still, he wanted the next club he joined to put him in the rotation -- and that's exactly what the Washington Nationals plan to do.

The right-hander said during a videoconference Monday to discuss his new two-year contract in free agency with Washington that general manager Mike Rizzo let him know he'll get his wish.

"The clarity when we talked was that I will be in the rotation," Williams said from his home in San Diego. "I have the ability to do both, but to add some stability to the rotation and be able to post up 30-plus times this season is something that's going to be asked of me."

He said some clubs were trying to add him in that role, while others were looking to add him to the bullpen.

In a swing role with the New York Mets last season, Williams went 3-5 with a 3.21 ERA and one save. He had primarily been a starter before going to the Mets and knew he wanted to get back to that.

"I like preparing for my one day every five days. I love watching the other starting pitchers from the side and not from the bullpen. I love being in a rotation and posting up for those five guys. It's something that I've always loved to do," said Williams, who made his major league debut in 2016 and has pitched for the Pirates, Cubs and Mets across seven seasons, compiling a 4.27 ERA with a record of 38-44.

"I didn't like preparing for games last year, preparing for series, and then not being able to pitch," he said. "So for me, to prepare every five days knowing that's it is my day -- and it's my day to go to work -- is something that I'm looking forward to."

With the Nationals, who were a majors-worst 55-107 last season, Williams becomes part of a starting staff that is expected to lean on youth, especially until injured 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg comes back -- if he ever does.

Josiah Gray, 24, Cade Cavalli, 24, and MacKenzie Gore, 23, are considered building-block players for the future, but the only other starter considered likely to be back on the team is Patrick Corbin, who was a key contributor in 2019 but was 6-19 with a 6.31 ERA in 2022.

Scanning Washington's roster, Williams said, he thought to himself: "I'm the old guy, even though I feel like I'm not too old. But I'm looking forward to taking on that role -- and learning something from these kids, too."