January 29th, 8:37pm: The Diamondbacks have announced the signing.
January 28th, 5:44pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to contract terms with right-hander Neftali Feliz, Robert Murray of FanRag Sports tweets. A source close to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation confirms the news, and Cotillo also adds that it’s a minor-league pact that includes an invitation to spring training.
Feliz’ future looked incredibly bright from the outset. Upon first reaching the majors in 2009, Feliz pitched out of the bullpen in 20 games for the Rangers to the tune of a remarkable 1.74 ERA. He followed up his opening act with an excellent 2010 campaign during which he saved 40 games for Texas while posting a spectacular 3.68 WPA en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award.
It wasn’t until 2012 that things took a turn for the worse. The Rangers opted to move Feliz to the rotation at the beginning of the year, and while his first seven starts looked good on the surface (3.14 ERA and a 3-1 record), his peripherals painted a dramatically different picture headlined by an ugly 4.85 BB/9. Feliz would ultimately undergo Tommy John surgery in 2013, missing the entire season. Upon his return in 2014, the righty posted a 1.99 ERA across 31 2/3 innings, but with an uninspiring 17.2% strikeout rate.
Feliz’ career seemed at its valley following the 2015 season. He was hit hard with the Rangers in 19 2/3 innings across April and May, prompting the club to cut him. His results down the stretch with the Tigers were even more disastrous. But when the Pirates took a chance on him the following season, he didn’t disappoint; Feliz made 62 appearances for the Bucs in 2016 while pitching to a 3.52 ERA and 3.72 xFIP. His velocity rebounded, his strikeout numbers were his career best for a full season, and he appeared to be positioning himself for a nice contract before being shut down on September 3rd due to an arm injury.
That injury wasn’t enough to deter the Brewers, however, who signed him to a one-year, $5.35MM deal to be their 2017 closer. Feliz wasn’t quite able to deliver on that investment, however, and on June 19th the club bet instead on the young Corey Knebel by releasing Feliz. He latched on with the Royals, and pitched 19 innings of 4.74-ERA baseball for them across the remainder of the campaign.
Feliz joins Antonio Bastardo, Kris Medlen, Fernando Salas, Yoshihisa Hirano and Jake Buchanan as bullpen candidates to sign minor-league deals with Arizona within the past 40 days. That means he’ll face a crowded competition for a few available reliever jobs behind Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger, Andrew Chafin, T.J. McFarland and Randall Delgado.