The Guardians announced today that left-hander Anthony Banda and catcher Dom Nuñez have been signed to minor league deals with non-roster invites to Spring Training. Both players are repped by the ALIGND Sports Agency.
Banda, 30, is coming off a rough season. He signed a minor league deal with the Nationals and made their Opening Day squad but was designated for assignment and outrighted off the roster a month later. He tossed just seven innings over 10 appearances, allowing five earned runs. He went on to throw 65 1/3 innings at Triple-A with a 7.58 ERA.
That was obviously not an ideal season, but he’s looked better in the past. From 2017 to 2022, he suited up for the Diamondbacks, Rays, Mets, Pirates, Blue Jays and Yankees, making 80 major league appearances over those six years. His 5.64 ERA in that time isn’t terribly impressive but a .358 batting average on balls in play and 67.9% strand rate may have pushed some extra runs across the board. His 20.1% strikeout rate and 8.6% walk rate were both close to average in that stretch, leading to a 4.25 FIP and 4.35 SIERA that are each more than a full run better than the ERA.
The Guards currently project to have Sam Hentges as the only southpaw in their big league bullpen, with Tim Herrin on the 40-man roster as optionable depth. If Banda could put the last year behind him, he could perhaps earn his way into that mix, though he’s out of options and wouldn’t be able to be sent back down without first being exposed to waivers.
Nuñez, 29, didn’t make it to the majors last year. He spent 2023 in Triple-A, signing minor league pacts with the Cubs and then Pirates. Between the two organizations, he struck out in 27.1% of his plate appearances but also drew walks at a 15.3% clip, leading to a .187/.326/.311 batting line.
Prior to last year, he was able to appear in 111 major league games for the Rockies from 2019 to 2022. The work at the plate was similar to his 2023 results, as he slashed .180/.280/.373 while striking out at a 34% rate but also walking 12.4% of the time. Behind the plate, he’s generally considered a strong pitch framer, getting positive marks in that department from FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus and Statcast.
The Guardians are set to open the year with Bo Naylor and Austin Hedges as their catching tandem. David Fry is on the roster but he can play other positions and also has options. Nuñez will give the club a bit of veteran depth in a non-roster capacity and could be called upon if someone above him on the depth chart suffers an injury.