When the Orioles announced the signing of Steve Trachsel yesterday, and the Yankees inked Ron Villone to a minor league deal today, it left Mark Redman as the only recognizable free agent pitcher without at least a minor league deal. Well, it left the Royals erstwhile Funk Doctor/2006 All-Star and the “retired” Roger Clemens, but Redman’s the only one admitting to being on the market.

Anyway, while Trachsel, with his characteristic deliberation, was still signing his name very slowly to that contract this morning — he pauses between every letter, blows on his hand, picks up the rosin bag, and looks pissed off — the Padres made reached even deeper in the free agent pool, emerging a different kind of veteran pitcher. That would be 22-year old Iraq War veteran Cooper Brannan, who lost his left little finger in Iraq. The story is from the AP, via CNNSI.

Brannan will report to minor league spring training March 1. The 22-year-old injured his left hand during a second tour of duty Iraq. Team spokesman George Stieren said Brannan lost his left pinky.

The team planned to announce the signing at a news conference Tuesday at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Stieren said Padres general manager Kevin Towers “was adamant that we were doing this because of his potential, not because it was a great story.

“This was a legitimate baseball decision.”

Since a Google search for the name Cooper Brannan turns up nothing by way of statistics or news stories, it’s hard to know if that’s true. Good luck to Brannan, though, who has obviously suffered enough already and deserves a break. This would be where I’d make a crack about Redman’s experience with the Royals last year being comparable to the situation in Iraq or something, but I don’t have the stomach for it at the moment. Also, I heard the Pentagon had double-secret proof that the Royals only did terribly last year because of Iranian interference.