The Nationals have claimed right-hander A.J. Alexy from the Rangers, per announcements from both teams. Alexy had been designated for assignment by the Rangers last week. The Nats designated shortstop Lucius Fox for assignment in a corresponding move.
Alexy, 25 in April, was a Dodgers draftee who came to the Rangers via the Yu Darvish trade in 2017. He subsequently moved his way up the minor league ranks, but missed much of 2019 due to injury and didn’t pitch at all in 2020 due to the pandemic wiping out the minors that year. Regardless, the Rangers liked him enough to add him to their 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft in late 2020.
He got back on track with a nice season in 2021, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A. Over 65 innings on the farm in 10 starts and six relief appearances, he had a 1.66 ERA, 29.8% strikeout rate and 10.6% walk rate. That was enough to get him a promotion to the big leagues late in the year. In 2022, Alexy made four MLB appearances but was lit up for ERA of 11.57 in that small sample. He tossed 96 innings in Triple-A but posted a 5.91 ERA with a 23.6% strikeout rate and 12.8% walk rate.
The Rangers relied on many youngsters for their pitching staff in 2022 but are going in a different direction for 2023, acquiring Jake Odorizzi before signing both Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney. Those moves pushed Alexy down the depth chart and off the roster, with his DFA coming when they announced the Heaney signing.
For the Nats, they are deep in rebuild mode and can take fliers on young players like Alexy. He still has one option year remaining and has shown some quality results in the past. They can keep him in the minors in 2023 and see if he takes a step forward in his age-25 season.
Fox, 25, was a high profile international signing of the Giants out of the Bahamas back in July of 2015, earning a $6MM bonus. Prospect evaluators considered him a gifted infielder with a distinct lack of power. That latter point has certainly proven to be true as Fox has never hit more than five home runs in any season since then. The Giants traded him to the Rays in the Evan Longoria deal but Tampa later flipped him to the Royals for Brett Phillips. He then went to the Orioles and Nationals on waiver claims. He made his MLB debut in 2022 but hit just .080/.115/.080 in 28 trips to the plate. In 216 minor league plate appearances, he hit .241/.321/.352 for a wRC+ of 81. The Nats will now have a week to trade him or pass him through waivers. He’s now out of options, meaning any team that acquires him would have to keep him on their active roster or else designate him for assignment again.
Anthony Franco of MLB Trade Rumors tweeted news of the Alexy claim prior to the official announcement.