The Yankees are set to sign free agent reliever Trevor Rosenthal to a minor league deal, according to a tweet from MLB Daily Dish’s Andersen Pickard later backed up by Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter links). The veteran elected free agency on August 10th after being designated for assignment by the Tigers organization.
Rosenthal, if nothing else, has certainly bolstered his frequent flyer accounts this year, as New York will represent his third organization of the 2019 season. Rosenthal’s signing of a one-year, $7MM deal with Washington was intended to bolster the D.C. relief corps with veteran experience, but the 29-year-old righty was thoroughly shellacked (22.74 ERA) in 6.1 innings in a Nats uni before being released on June 23rd. The Tigers then signed him on June 29th, perhaps hoping that his early-season struggles were just signs of rust understandable for a pitcher who had sat out the 2018 season in rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. Those hopes were dashed over 9 summer innings, as Rosenthal again allowed nearly more walks (11) than strikeouts (12).
Perhaps Rosenthal can find a remedy for his struggles working in the New York organization. Though this deal is reported as being of the minors variety, it stands to reason that, with the end of the minor league schedule just weeks away, this signing is likely a precursor to Rosenthal’s late-season integration into the Yankees bullpen mix. For several reasons, there are worse gambles for Yankees GM Brian Cashman to make at this juncture in the season.
After all, Rosenthal is still youthful, and formerly effective. The last time we saw him pitch a full season, Rosenthal threw 47 2/3 innings of 3.40 ERA ball with a career-high 14.3 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 for the 2017 Cardinals. Walks have always been a bugaboo for the Missouri native, with a career 4.5 BB/9 rate that is truly anxiety-inducing in a late-inning reliever, but his 12.0 career K/9 rating helps explain how a pitcher with that weakness could wind up stranding more than his fair share of runners. If the Yankees recent run of success with scrap heap vets is any indication, it may not be the strangest development of the 2019 season to see Rosenthal regain some of his old St. Louis form in New York.