The Cardinals have signed right-hander Guillermo Zuniga to a big league contract, per a team announcement. The move takes their 40-man roster to 38 players. Zuniga is a free agent after departing the Dodgers in November.
Zuniga, 24, was originally signed out of Colombia by the Braves back in 2016. He struggled as a teenager with Atlanta, making it as high as Rookie ball where he pitched 19 1/3 innings of 5.59 ERA ball, striking out just 12.5% of batters before being released at the end of the 2017 season.
The Dodgers picked him up and he found a lot more success in their organization, making it up to Double-A in 2021. That year, Zuniga threw 35 1/3 innings of 3.06 ERA ball, striking out 33.8% of batters against a 9% walk rate. Zuniga would repeat Double-A in 2022, but saw a step backwards in results. He’d throw 54 2/3 innings for a 4.77 ERA, experiencing a decline in strikeouts (27.4%) and an increase in walks (12.4%).
Zuniga became a free agent last month, and given he’s never pitched above Double-A, it’s interesting to see him land a major league deal. It’s possible he had widespread interest in a minor league deal, and the Cardinals opted to hand him a major league deal to seal the deal. Regardless, Zuniga still has all three minor league options remaining, so while he’ll occupy a spot on their 40-man roster they don’t need to immediately use him in the big leagues. On the surface, Zuniga’s results don’t jump off the page but he has shown some impressive strikeout numbers at times. He leans on a fastball-slider combo, with the fastball touching 96 mph.