The Rangers announced on Monday that they have signed former Athletics right-hander A.J. Griffin to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The soon-to-be 28-year-old Legacy Agency client hasn’t pitched since 2013 due to 2014 Tommy John surgery and a 2015 shoulder injury.
Prior to those injuries, Griffin was on the verge of establishing himself as a potential long-term cog in Oakland’s rotation. After posting a 3.06 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 82 innings as a rookie in 2012, Griffin rattled off 200 innings of 3.83 ERA ball in 2014, averaging 7.7 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. He’s very much a fly-ball pitcher, as evidenced by the 33.7 percent ground-ball rate he yielded across those two seasons and the fact that he led the AL with 36 homers allowed in ’13. That skill set may not be as well suited for Arlington’s Globe Life Park as it is for Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum, but a healthy Griffin would nonetheless be a nice option for the back of the rotation. Colby Lewis, for instance, has enjoyed a nice five-year run with the Rangers despite never having topped 38 percent with his ground-ball rate.
Griffin will look to compete for a spot in the Rangers’ rotation behind Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Lewis, who reportedly agreed to a new one-year deal with Texas last week. While there are plenty of established names in that mix, Darvish is recovering from Tommy John surgery, Perez returned from that same operation late in 2015 and Holland has been beset by shoulder and knee injuries over the past two seasons. Griffin has three years and 34 days of big league service, so if he makes it back to the Majors next season, he could be controlled through at least 2018 and possibly 2019, depending on the amount of service time accrued in 2016.