Nov. 21: De Los Santos indeed signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post, further adding that the righty would earn $900K upon making the roster. De Los Santos also has out clauses in the deal on June 1 and July 1.
Nov. 20: The Yankees have an agreement with reliever Yerry De Los Santos, his representatives at Epitome Sports Management announced on Instagram. While the agency didn’t specify the terms, it’s very likely a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
De Los Santos became a free agent two weeks ago after he went unclaimed on waivers. That ended his career-long tenure with the Pirates. The righty signed with Pittsburgh as an amateur in 2014. He got to the big leagues eight years later, tossing 25 2/3 innings of 4.91 ERA ball as a rookie. He took on a similar workload this past season, tallying 24 1/3 frames over 26 MLB appearances.
The 25-year-old (26 next month) turned in a 3.33 ERA for the Bucs this year. That’s a solid mark on the surface but comes with an underwhelming strikeout and walk profile. He handed out free passes at a 12.5% clip while punching out a well below-average 17.3% of batters faced. De Los Santos had only slightly better strikeout and walk numbers in Triple-A, where he was tagged for a 6.12 ERA over 25 innings.
That combination of middling control and a subpar whiff rate led teams to opt against devoting him a 40-man roster spot when he hit waivers. He’s a sensible target for the Yankees as a non-roster addition, however. New York tends to prioritize ground-ball arms in the late innings. They’ve led the majors in ground-ball percentage from their relief corps in consecutive seasons.
De Los Santos fits the mold. He relies primarily on a sinker that averaged 95 MPH at the big league level. That has resulted in a grounder rate north of 53% in his MLB career. (The league average for relievers sat at 43.6% this year.) De Los Santos has a pair of minor league options remaining. If he cracks the MLB roster, the Yankees could move him between the Bronx and Triple-A without exposing him to waivers.