The Tigers and former Mets closer Bobby Parnell have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, reports Lynn Henning of the Detroit News (via Twitter). Parnell, a client of ACES, will compete for a spot in the bullpen alongside locks such as Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, Alex Wilson and presumably Blaine Hardy.
Parnell, 31, enjoyed an excellent run at the back of the Mets’ bullpen from 2010-13, registering a 2.79 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 55.4 percent ground-ball rate in 213 innings of work. Parnell ultimately landed in the closer’s role for New York, saving 22 games once he took over the job in 2013 — a season in which he recorded a career-best 2.16 ERA. However, that campaign was cut short by a herniated disk in Parnell’s neck, and the following season was wiped out entirely (aside from one lone inning) due to Tommy John surgery. Parnell returned to the Mets in 2015, but his velocity (93 mph average fastball) was down significantly from its peak of 97.2 mph in 2011, and his control was nowhere to be found. Parnell walked more batters (17) than he struck out (13) in 24 innings last year, en route to an unsightly and uncharacteristic 6.38 ERA. He landed on the disabled list with what was termed right shoulder tendinitis in mid-August and didn’t pitch again for the remainder of the season.