The Orioles have signed veteran left-hander T.J. McFarland to a minor league deal, per MLB.com’s transactions page. McFarland was designated for assignment by the Mets earlier this month to make room for left-hander Jose Quintana on the 40-man roster.
The deal represents a homecoming for McFarland, who made his MLB debut with the Orioles back in 2013. Over his first two seasons in the majors, McFarland posted a solid 3.58 ERA and 3.59 FIP in 133 1/3 innings of work. He struggled over the following two seasons, however, mustering just 65 innings with a disappointing 5.68 ERA. That downturn in production led Baltimore to release him prior to the 2017 season.
Since then, McFarland has played for the Diamondbacks, Athletics, and Cardinals in addition to the Mets. In 275 2/3 innings of work with those clubs, he’s managed a 4.05 ERA that’s 6% better than league average by measure of ERA+ along with a 4.33 FIP. He’s thrown just 1 2/3 innings in the majors this year, though he sports a 2.76 ERA in 32 2/3 innings of work at the Triple-A level with the Mets’ affiliate in Syracuse.
In returning to Baltimore, McFarland joins a stacked Orioles relief corps that leads the majors with 5.0 fWAR thanks to an MLB-best 3.58 FIP. That being said, the club’s bullpen has covered 355 innings so far this season, the 12th highest figure in the majors. Given that, McFarland could still prove to be valuable depth that helps bear the load as the club enters the second half.
McFarland figures to join the likes of Nick Vespi and Eduard Bazardo as depth options in the upper minors for the Orioles going forward. Vespi and McFarland, in particular, seem likely to get consideration if the struggles of Cionel Perez, who sports a 4.73 ERA (89 ERA+) and 4.49 FIP in 32 1/3 innings of work, prompt the club to look into other left-handed options to pair with Danny Coulombe in the bullpen.