Veteran right-handed reliever Dominic Leone has opted out of his minor league contract with the Rangers and will formally become a free agent later today, reports MLBTR’s Anthony Franco (Twitter link).
The 31-year-old Leone has gotten out to a terrific start in Triple-A this season, pitching to a 1.59 ERA with a 15-to-2 K/BB ratio in 11 1/3 innings of work. He’ll shop that strong start around the open market as he looks for a path back to a big league bullpen.
A veteran of nine big league seasons, Leone spent the 2021-22 seasons with the Giants, pitching to a combined 2.71 ERA with a roughly average 23.1% strikeout rate and higher-than-average 10.4% walk rate in 103 innings of relief. His fastball sat at 95.5 mph during that two-year stretch, and he turned in huge marks in terms of swinging-strike rate (15.7%) and opponents’ chase rate (38.4%).
Leone debuted with Seattle in 2014 and has since spent time in Arizona, Toronto, St. Louis and Cleveland in addition to his two years in San Francisco. Overall, he’s logged 356 innings at the Major League level, all coming in relief or as an opener, with a composite 3.69 ERA, 24.4% strikeout rate, 9.8% walk rate, 1.06 HR/9 and 43.8% ground-ball rate. That ERA is backed up by matching 3.91 marks from both FIP and SIERA. Leone has 53 career holds and seven saves, including 26 holds and five saves over the past two seasons with the Giants, so he’s accustomed to working in high-leverage spots.
The Rangers rank tenth in the Majors with a 3.46 ERA out of the bullpen, though the final few spots in the Texas relief corps are hardly set in stone. Veteran Ian Kennedy and lefty Cole Ragans have both struggled so far in 2023 (although Kennedy is still missing plenty of bats), while newcomer Yerry Rodriguez has just one inning under his belt so far. The Rangers have gotten solid bottom-line results from Jose Leclerc, Jonathan Hernandez, Will Smith, Josh Sborz, Brock Burke and long man Dane Dunning thus far, though Leclerc’s 18.4% walk rate is a cause for concern.
Texas apparently remains bullish enough on that group that they’ll allow the veteran Leone to return to the market and quite likely latch on with another club. There are numerous teams around the league seeking ’pen help, and with a nice start to his season in the minors and a solid track record at the MLB level, Leone ought to find another opportunity in short order.
He’s hoping For a Few Dollars More.
deGrom Texas Ranger
They should have kept him over Kennedy and Sborz. Sborz has allowed so many inheirited runners to score that his ERA is an inaccurate measure. That 7.5 K/BB rate could help the low K/BB bullpen.
I agree. Never been a Sborz fan and would rather have Bradford or LIttel up over he or Kennedy
Hard to believe after seeing the pens of many teams that this guy couldn’t improve most, if not all, of them.
Dominic Leone sounds like a bookie from my old neighborhood in NYC who breaks thumbs over unpaid bets
Bart Harley Jarvis
But his mother’s tomato gravy, as well as her sausage and peppers, are to die for.
Steve Adams, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Watch the games.
Ragans has been very good this season. He had one bad outing in Cincinnati (they all did), otherwise his ERA would be below 2.00.
He’s also capable of pitching in long relief, which is valuable on a staff with injury concerns.
He’ll be a dodger soon. Just watch.
Bet the A’s will get him they need any arm right now, but at 31 he might be 5 or 6 years too old.