The Chiba Lotte Marines announced (Japanese language link) the signing of right-hander Junior Fernandez. The move to Nippon Professional Baseball comes after Fernandez elected minor league free agency following a 2023 season spent with the Triple-A affiliates of the Blue Jays and Nationals.
An international signing for the Cardinals in 2014, Fernandez spent his entire career in the St. Louis season until September 2022, and he has since bounced around to four different MLB teams before now heading to the Marines. The Pirates claimed Fernandez off waivers in September 2022 and the Yankees and Jays then added the righty on subsequent waiver claims during that offseason. Toronto released Fernandez in August, and he then caught on with the Nats on a minor league contract.
Fernandez has a 5.17 ERA over 54 career MLB innings with St. Louis and Pittsburgh from 2019-22, seeing at least some big league action in each of those four seasons. He posted a hefty 13.9% walk rate while striking out only 18.7% of batters. Fernandez became a full-time reliever in 2018 and has since shown some flashes of improved strikeout ability, as well as a pretty steady ability to generate grounders. However, walks have been an issue, as Fernandez has had trouble fully controlling a pitch repertoire that includes a 98.7mph sinker.