The Rangers and right-handed reliever Kyle Funkhouser are in agreement on a minor-league contract, reports Robert Murray of Fansided. The Boras Corporation client will presumably receive an invite to major league Spring Training.
Funkhouser, who is headed into his age 29 season, was an effective member of the Tigers bullpen in 2021, when he posted a 3.42 ERA (124 ERA+) in 68 1/3 innings of work. His arsenal has four pitches, including a sinker and four-seamer that both averaged 96 mph in 2021 in addition to a 87 mph slider and a rarely used changeup. Despite his impressive velocity, Funkhouser struck batters out at just a 21.1% rate in 2021.
Though his strikeout rate was below-average and his 12.8% walk rate was downright troubling, Funkhouser seemed set to reprise this role in 2022 nonetheless. This was in part due to an excellent 53.1% groundball rate that helped him settle in among the best in the game at avoiding the barrel of the bat (92nd percentile opponents’ barrel rate, per Statcast). Unfortunately, Funkhouser suffered a right shoulder strain that kept him from pitching at all in 2022. That contributed to the Tigers designating him for assignment in November, after which point Funkhouser elected free agency to search for his next opportunity.
That opportunity will come in Texas, where Funkhouser will likely compete with the likes of Josh Sborz, Taylor Hearn, John King, and Dane Dunning for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. While Texas has a handful of quality options for the late innings, such as Jose Leclerc, Brock Burke, Jonathan Hernandez, Joe Barlow and Brett Martin, Funkhouser adds some depth to a bullpen that lost Matt Moore to free agency and Matt Bush in a deadline trade with the Brewers last July. If he doesn’t crack the Opening Day roster, he can head to Triple-A Round Rock and serve as a depth option in the event of an injury.