The Dodgers have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Zach Neal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). As Rosenthal notes, there’s familiarity between Neal and Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi stemming from their time together in the A’s organization from 2013-14. Neal receives an invitation to MLB camp.
Neal debuted in the majors with Oakland in 2016, when he amassed 70 innings of 4.24 ERA pitching in 24 appearances (six starts). While Neal only managed a paltry 3.47 strikeouts per nine innings, he did his best to offset that with a sterling walk rate (0.77 BB/9) and a high groundball percentage (53.0). The 29-year-old struggled with the A’s last season, though, as he tossed just 14 2/3 frames and yielded 13 earned runs on 19 hits (five homers). Neal also wasn’t particularly effective in 21 Triple-A appearances and 16 starts, with a 3.91 K/9 and a 4.82 ERA.
To his credit, Neal walked a mere 11 batters in 113 2/3 innings between the majors and minors in 2017, and he recorded a lofty 23.9 percent infield fly rate at the Triple-A level. Neal has a history of limiting walks, generating grounders and inducing infield pop-ups, which perhaps gives the Dodgers hope that he could turn into a quality major leaguer.