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.
Gonna be interesting to see how he fares in that ballpark with his tendency to allow homers. Hope for the best. Could be a trade chip in June/July if homers are under control.
its a minor league deal so until he hits the bugs the ball in his court
Strange, numbers usually improve in Japan. Not to say anything about the quality of their talent, just that there’s probably something wrong with Tonkin’s approach.
I assume that some pitchers have a problem dealing with the smaller baseball they use in Japan, but yeah, mostly pitchers seem to pitch better over there.
Free Agency needs to pick up the pace already.
it has with trades…this off season more active than last.
its clear….teams are driving down the players price tag. I called it last off season and same this one.
I would not spend that price for 1 player when a team can get 2.5 players at same price.
Until Harper and Machado sign their deals, free agency is going to be dead.
Would have been a good piece for the Dodgers to add. They need arms and bodies come post tear down time.
I’m glad the Rangers and Tonkin were able to bridge their Gulf.
This is a guy who always seemed like he had the stuff to make it just couldn’t put it together.
The Ranger Fan
Pretty interesting offseason for my Rangers, we still need a couple more starters and some bullpen help, seems to be a totally new stable of pitchers for us this year, hopefully the new coaching staff can pull them together. Now we need a 3rd baseman and center fielder,preferably a seasoned center fielder. But why is it all dragging out this year ?
That MLB draw is difficult for some players to let go. I wonder if the Fighters showed little to no interest in bringing him back? Those 4 foreign roster spots are valuable in Japan. That might have been the deciding factor. If he still has options left, it very well could be an up and down season, or just down. I believe Chris Martin was sent down by the Rangers last year causing a riff momentarily, after he returned from the Fighter’s with a longer experience and better numbers. Another season with a different club in NPB with better money may have been the way for Tonkin to go, unless he didn’t have those opportunities. I wish him good luck.