TODAY: Boyer will earn $975K if he makes the MLB roster, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets.
YESTERDAY: The Braves have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Blaine Boyer, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter link). Bowman notes that the Aegis Sports client will have a good chance to make the Atlanta bullpen.
The 35-year-old Boyer was originally drafted by the Braves back in 2000 and spent the first five seasons of his career in Atlanta. After a two-year absence from the Majors from 2012-13, during which Boyer has previously said he believed his career to be over, the right-hander returned to MLB on a minors pact with the Padres. Since that time, he’s posted a very strong 3.31 ERA in 171 1/3 innings with the Padres, Twins and Brewers.
Most recently, Boyer tossed 66 innings for the 2016 Brewers, posting a 3.95 earned run average with 3.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. That K/9 rate stands out as the likely reason that Boyer has continually had to settle for minor league deals in recent years. Boyer misses fewer bats than just about any reliever in the game — he’s averaged just 4.6 K/9 since returning the bigs — but demonstrates strong control and induces plenty of weak contact, which helps his cause.
Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik recently penned a fascinating look at Boyer in an attempt to determine how he’s been able to succeed despite that lack of strikeouts. Sawchik observes that Boyer allowed the fewest number of barreled balls to opponents in 2016. Beyond that, opponents averaged a feeble 86.2 mph exit velocity against Boyer, which was the 11th-lowest mark in baseball. Sawchik likened Boyer’s knack for inducing consistent weak contact to that of Mark Buehrle, another low-strikeout arm that thrived for more than a decade despite his own lack of missed bats. Braves fans are encouraged to check out the piece in its entirety, as it’s a thorough look at one of the game’s more unique skill sets.