The Rangers announced four minor league deals today, with three of them being the previously reported deals for catcher Sandy León as well as right-handers Kyle Funkhouser and Zack Littell. The fourth deal is with right-hander Jacob Barnes. All four players will receive invitations to major league Spring Training.
Barnes, 33 in April, is a veteran that has appeared in the big leagues in each season since 2016. However, the 2022 campaign was strange for him in a couple of ways. For one thing, he bounced around quite a bit. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers and made their Opening Day roster. He was designated for assignment in June and signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. The M’s selected him to their roster in July but designated him for assignment the next day without Barnes getting into a game. That was followed by another minor league deal with the Tigers, a release, a minors deal with the Yankees, cracking the Yankee roster in October, getting into a single game before being designated for assignment yet again.
Amid all those travels, he had an odd split in his strikeouts. Coming into 2022, he had punched out 24.4% of batters faced in his major league career. But last year, it was just 12.4% in 22 1/3 big league innings but a huge 32.9% rate in 18 Triple-A frames. Those diminished strikeout totals in the majors led to a 5.64 ERA on the season.
Strange year aside, Barnes has appeared in 252 MLB games to this point in his career with a 4.70 ERA, 23.3% strikeout rate, 9.9% walk rate and 49% ground ball rate. The club’s projected relievers on the 40-man roster are all in their 20s, though 32-year-old Jake Odorizzi could wind up in the bullpen as a long man. Aside from him, José Leclerc is the only other reliever to have surpassed four years in service time. If Barnes can crack the club’s roster, he no longer has options, meaning he would have to retain his spot or else be given the DFA treatment again. If he manages to hang on through the end of the season, the Rangers would have the option of retaining Barnes for 2024 via arbitration.
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