Veteran right-hander Ernesto Frieri has exercised the opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the Yankees, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (on Twitter). The decision to opt out seems to be a last-minute change in direction, as the Post’s Joel Sherman reported late yesterday afternoon that Frieri had not yet triggered the clause.
Set to turn 32 next month, Frieri has enjoyed a solid season with New York’s Triple-A affiliate thus far, pitching to a 3.00 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 21 innings of work. Frieri’s nine walks and 33.3 percent ground-ball rate aren’t eye-catching numbers, but even in his peak seasons from 2010-13, he was a fly-ball pitcher that struggled with his control at times.
Frieri sat out the 2016 campaign entirely, with the exception of playing some winter ball, and he struggled through both the 2014 and 2015 seasons in the Majors. However, the former Angels closer did notch 60 saves from 2012-13, and his aforementioned four-year peak stretch included a 2.79 earned run average with 313 strikeouts in just 229 1/3 innings.
Given his history of missing bats and solid efforts thus far in Triple-A, Frieri could latch on as a low-cost flyer with any number of bullpen-needy teams around the league. Speculatively speaking, the Nationals, Tigers, Twins, Rangers and Mets are among the many clubs that could be on the hunt for relief help.