The Rangers announced Tuesday that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Jose Urena to a minor league contract. He’ll be in big league camp as a non-roster invitee this spring. Urena is represented by Premier Talent Sports & Entertainment.
Each of the past two seasons has played out somewhat similarly for the now-32-year-old Urena. He’s split both years between two organizations — Brewers/Rockies in 2022; Rockies/White Sox in 2023 — and pitched poorly for the first before rebounding for the second. In 2022, Urena tossed 7 2/3 innings for the Brewers, limiting opponents to three runs but doing so with more walks (five) than strikeouts (three). He latched on in Colorado after being cut loose and gave the Rox 89 1/3 innings of 5.14 ERA ball over the life of 17 starts. That’s not the most appealing ERA mark, of course, but pitching at Coors Field is hardly an enviable task — and Urena was quite successful down the stretch (2.25 ERA, 25-to-9 K/BB in his final five starts).
That run with the Rockies was enough for Colorado to bring him back on a one-year, $3.5MM contract, but that deal went south in a hurry. Urena was torched for a 9.82 earned run average in his first five starts and cut loose after pitching just 18 1/3 innings overall. He caught on with the White Sox later, was called to the big leagues in September, and posted an overall 4.10 ERA in his five starts with Chicago (26 1/3 innings, 20-to-8 K/BB ratio).
Urena had some solid seasons with the Marlins earlier in his big league career, but consistency has long eluded him. All told, he’s pitched 839 1/3 innings as a big leaguer and turned in a 4.89 ERA with a well below-average 15.5% strikeout rate, a roughly average 8.6% walk rate and a strong 48.2% ground-ball rate.
The Rangers will likely try to add a few arms of this nature — veterans who can be stashed in the upper minors as depth. With Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom both recovering from surgery and Jordan Montgomery currently a free agent, they’re looking at a projected rotation of Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning and Cody Bradford. Some additional certainty would be prudent — be it re-signing Montgomery or acquiring a different free agent or trade option — but improving the depth is similarly important and Urena helps to fill that need.