The Rangers are signing reliever Dan Winkler to a minor league contract, pending a physical, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). Presumably, the right-hander will get a look in big league Spring Training once the deal’s finalized.
Winkler ranked third among Cubs relievers in innings last season, tossing 39 2/3 frames over 47 outings. The 32-year-old didn’t get particularly strong results, though, due in large part to control woes. Winkler walked 15.8% of batters faced while striking out a personal-low 21.1% of opponents. That led to a 5.22 ERA, even as opposing hitters managed only a .255 batting average on balls in play against him. The Cubs designated him for assignment in late August, and he elected minor league free agency after passing through waivers unclaimed.
It was the third consecutive season of mediocre strikeout and walk numbers for Winkler, who has posted an ERA near 5.00 in two of the past three campaigns. He did have an excellent 2018 season with the Braves, however, a year in which he worked 60 1/3 frames of 3.43 ERA ball with a 27.1% strikeout rate and a 7.8% walk percentage. Winkler’s control has been spotty aside from that year, but he’s maintained a fastball in the 93-94 MPH range and typically generated swinging strikes at an average or better clip.
Winkler will have to earn a big league roster spot, but he should have a good opportunity to do so in Texas. Rangers relievers ranked in the bottom ten in both ERA (4.80) and SIERA (4.48) last year. Joe Barlow, Spencer Patton, Brett Martin and perhaps Josh Sborz looked to have carved out season-opening roles, but the rest of the unit seems unsettled. Brandon Workman, Matt Bush, Justin Anderson and Jesús Tinoco are among the other players who’ll be in camp as non-roster invitees.