The Nationals have agreed to a minor league deal with right-hander Tyler Eppler, MLB Trade Rumors’ Steve Adams reports (Twitter link). Eppler is returning to North American baseball after pitching for NPB’s Orix Buffaloes last season.
The trip to Japan saw Eppler pitch for both Orix’s minor league affiliate and with the Buffaloes themselves, including a 4.02 ERA, 7.2 K/9, and 2.78 K/BB rate over 31 1/3 relief innings with the big club. Eppler worked almost exclusively as a starting pitcher over his previous 592 innings in the Pirates’ farm system from 2014-18, starting 100 of his 111 career games.
Originally a sixth-round pick for the Pirates in the 2014 draft, Eppler had some decent but unspectacular numbers in his minor league career. He had a 3.82 ERA and 3.14 K/BB, though didn’t generate many grounders or miss many bats (6.4 K/9), which could be why Pittsburgh didn’t protect Eppler from the Rule 5 Draft in either 2017 or 2018. Still, the bottom-line results are pretty solid, and there’s little risk for the Nationals in bringing the 27-year-old Eppler to Spring Training to see that he could contribute to the club’s shaky bullpen.