The White Sox have signed right-hander Keynan Middleton to a minor league deal, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. He’ll presumably receive an invitation to major league Spring Training.
Middleton, 29, was drafted by the Angels and spent the first few seasons of his career there. He seemed to be establishing himself as a quality relief option in 2017 and 2018, making 80 appearances over those two seasons with a 3.43 ERA. Unfortunately, he required Tommy John surgery midway through the latter campaign, putting him out of action for over a year.
The righty returned to the mound late in 2019 but has struggled over the past few years. He made 13 appearances in the shortened 2020 season but with a 5.25 ERA. The Angels non-tendered him after that but he secured a major league deal from the Mariners for 2021. The change of scenery didn’t help much, with the righty posting a 4.94 ERA over 32 appearances that season.
After a couple of rough seasons, Middleton had to settle for a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks for 2022. He pitched well enough in the minors to get back into the big leagues, but his 18 appearances for Arizona resulted in a 5.29 ERA. He did reduce his walk rate to 4.3% after being much higher in the preceding campaigns, but his strikeout and ground ball rates were both subpar. He also allowed five home runs in that brief time, matching his total from the four previous seasons combined. He was cut from the roster in November and became a free agent again.
Middleton will now look to get back on track after a rough few years. Despite some poor results, he does average over 95 mph on his fastball, placing him in the 74th percentile of qualified pitchers, according to Statcast. If he can claw his way back onto the club’s roster, he won’t be able to be optioned to the minors without his consent since he has over five years of MLB service time.
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