The Phillies have signed left-hander Jace Fry to a minor league contract, as first indicated on the transaction log at MLB.com. The Northwest Sports Management client will head for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Fry opened the season with the Nationals, but I’m told he recently opted out of that contract. (The opt-out date in his Nationals deal had been set for May, but Fry was on the Covid-related IL at the time, and the Nats agreed to honor the opt-out clause at a later time.)
The 28-year-old Fry has accrued nearly four years of Major League service time across parts of the past five seasons — all coming as a member of the White Sox. Chicago’s third-round selection in the 2014 draft, Fry reached the Majors in 2017 and became a consistent presence in the South Siders’ Major League bullpen beginning in 2018. From 2018-20, he pitched to a combined 4.43 ERA with strong strikeout and ground-ball rates (29.6% and 51.2%, respectively) across 126 innings — albeit against a 13.7% walk rate that he’d surely like to scale down a ways.
Fry landed on the injured list late in 2020 due to back spasms and eventually underwent a microdiscectomy procedure. The lefty spent the first three months of the 2021 season on the injured list and pitched well in Triple-A upon activation (2.93 ERA in 40 innings). However, Fry was tagged for eight runs over 6 2/3 innings with the big league team (mostly in September) and was sent outright off the roster following the season. He signed a minor league deal with Washington back on March 21.
So far in 2022, Fry has tallied 14 1/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester, during which time he’s yielded six runs on 14 hits and eight walks with 20 punchouts — good for a 3.77 ERA. He’s sporting a huge 57.6% ground-ball rate there and has fanned 31.7% of his opponents, but he’s also continued to walk too many hitters (12.7%).
Phillies relievers rank 19th in the Majors with a 4.05 ERA, and the team is generally thin on left-handed bullpen depth beyond offseason addition Brad Hand. Fellow southpaw Jose Alvarado has struggled to a 5.95 ERA through 19 2/3 innings this season, while waiver pickup Ryan Sherriff hasn’t pitched so far due to a shoulder strain.
Down in Triple-A, Damon Jones is on the 40-man roster but is also the injured list in Triple-A and hasn’t pitched since May 19. Southpaws Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sanchez are pitching well there and, like Jones, are on the 40-man roster. However, they’re stretched out and pitching out of the IronPigs’ rotation at the moment. Fry will join that group and give the Phils an experienced lefty to consider for the big league ’pen if he continues throwing well in his new environs.