The Rangers have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Michael Tonkin, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. The former Twins righty spent the 2018 season pitching for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan. He’s represented by Wasserman.
Tonkin, 29, posted a 3.71 ERA and saved a dozen games in 51 innings out of the Fighters’ bullpen, though his K/BB numbers took a dramatic turn for the worse in his lone season overseas. Missing bats was always a strong point for the lanky, 6’7″ righty when pitching in the Twins’ system, as he averaged 10.6 K/9 in parts of four Triple-A seasons and 9.2 K/9 in parts of five MLB campaigns. In Japan, however, he managed just a 33-to-23 K/BB ratio in those 51 frames — 5.8 strikeouts and 4.1 walks per nine innings.
Throughout his five seasons with the Twins, Tonkin pitched to a 4.43 ERA over the life of 146 2/3 innings. Control wasn’t a significant issue for him (3.3 BB/9), but Tonkin proved to be increasingly homer-prone as his time in the Majors wore on. Ultimately, he averaged 1.54 homers per nine innings pitched in the Majors and saw his ERA spike north of 5.00 in each of his final two seasons.
Tonkin averages 94 mph on his heater and pairs that primarily with a slider — a combo that resulted in a solid 11.3 percent swinging-strike rate from 2016-17. His penchant for serving up long balls doesn’t bode well for any time spent at Globe Life Park in Arlington, however, so the Rangers will need to curb that issue in a way the Twins couldn’t. He’ll be part of a fairly wide-open bullpen competition in Texas behind Jose Leclerc, Jesse Chavez and Chris Martin.