The Brewers have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with veteran righty Ernesto Frieri, reports MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (on Twitter). The former Angels closer will be invited to Major League Spring Training and vie for a spot in the bullpen.
Frieri, 32, did not pitch in the Majors or minors in 2016, but he used the 2017 World Baseball Classic as an audition to return to pro ball in North America. Frieri pitched for his native Colombia in that tournament and showed enough that the Yankees picked him up on a minor league pact. While Frieri didn’t make it to the big leagues in the Bronx, the 3.00 ERA and 24-to-9 K/BB ratio that he logged with their Triple-A affiliate was enough to draw the interest of the Rangers.
Frieri did log seven innings out of the Rangers’ bullpen last season, though that was his lone big league action in 2017. He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A with the Yanks, Rangers and also the Mariners, pitching to a 3.43 ERA with 11.9 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9.
Overall, Frieri has a lifetime 3.59 ERA in 303 1/3 innings at the Major League level. He’s averaged a healthy 11.5 K/9 in the Majors against 4.2 BB/9 but just a 26.4 percent ground-ball rate. Frieri relies heavily on a four-seam fastball that he’ll often throw up in the zone, generating to plenty of whiffs above the zone and a sky-high 15.5 percent infield-fly rate (one of the best in the Majors over the past decade). However, home runs became an increasing problem for Frieri over the course of his career, as he averaged 1.7 HR/9 from 2012-15 before sitting out the 2016 campaign.