The Indians have signed righty-handed reliever Tommy Hunter to a one-year deal worth $2MM, per a club announcement and report from Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). To clear roster space, the club designated catcher Tony Wolters for assignment.
Hunter, 29, has been a fairly steady performer since moving over from the rotation. He wasn’t able to hold onto a closing gig with the Orioles, but still managed a strong 2.88 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 1.6 BB/9 over 147 innings in 2013-14. Heading into last year, he seemed to represent an important piece of the O’s pen picture.
It turned out to be something of an odd 2015 campaign for the right-hander. He wasn’t trusted with many important situations in Baltimore — only 15 of his 39 appearances were in games the team ended up winning — and was sent out at the deadline by the still-contending O’s for a player who didn’t even see much action.
Of course, Hunter was much the same pitcher in his last 44 2/3 innings with the Orioles that he had been previously, carrying a 3.63 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. He improved in the K:BB department upon moving to Chicago, racking up 15 strikeouts against just four walks over 15 2/3 frames, but also was touched for twenty hits (including four long balls) in that span.
All told, Cleveland looks to have made a solid addition to its pen by adding Hunter. He is said to be about a month behind schedule with camp approaching, though, having undergone offseason core muscle surgery. That could help explain why he wasn’t able to secure a larger and/or longer contract.
Wolters, 23, is a rare breed: he converted from the middle infield to catcher and still sees a bit of time at short and second. he played last year at Double-A, putting up a .209/.290/.280 slash with two home runs and three steals over 271 plate appearances. The former third-round pick obviously has some work to do at the plate in order to bring his interesting defensive skillset to the majors.