The D-backs announced on Friday that they’ve signed southpaw T.J. McFarland to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. The former Orioles reliever was designated for assignment and subsequently released last week. Baltimore had reportedly hoped to retain McFarland on a new minor league deal, but the left-hander apparently saw a better opportunity in the Diamondbacks organization.
The 27-year-old McFarland enjoyed a solid season with the Orioles in 2014 — one year after spending the 2013 season with the team as a Rule 5 pick. However, he’s yet to replicate the 2.76 ERA he notched in 58 2/3 frames that season. Rather, he’s struggled to a 5.68 ERA with 4.6 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in his past 65 big league innings. McFarland was hit hard by left-handed opponents last year — the worst season of his career — but held opposing lefties to a combined .246/.309/.330 batting line in a total of 194 plate appearances between the 2014-15 campaigns. He also boasts a gaudy 60.7 percent ground-ball rate in his Major League career, which undoubtedly appeals to the Diamondbacks, who play their home games in an extremely homer-friendly environment.
Presently, Andrew Chafin is the only left-hander that’s guaranteed a role in the Arizona bullpen. Looking further, the D-backs aren’t carrying an abundance of options in camp, with Steve Hathaway representing an optionable candidate for a second spot in the ’pen. Non-roster options with whom McFarland will compete include veteran Jorge De La Rosa, Triple-A lefty Jared Miller and former teammate Brian Matusz.