The Diamondbacks have signed left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to a minor league contract, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. De La Rosa, who will compete for a bullpen spot, will earn $2.25MM if he cracks the Diamondbacks’ roster. The TWC Sports client could make another $600K in relief incentives and, if he ends up in the D-backs’ rotation, $1MM in starter incentives (Twitter links).
After sitting on the open market for nearly four months, De La Rosa will remain in the National League West, where he spent the past nine seasons as a member of the Rockies. The 35-year-old was generally an effective starter during that 1,141-inning span, as he logged a 4.35 ERA, 7.77 K/9, 3.79 BB/9 and 48.1 percent ground-ball rate despite having to call hitter-friendly Coors Field home. While all of De La Rosa’s appearances as a Rockie from 2008-15 came as a starter, he wasn’t able to hold down his rotation spot for all of last season. All told, De La Rosa made three relief appearances in 27 games and struggled to a 5.51 ERA in 134 innings. He also posted his highest BB/9 (4.23) since 2008 and experienced a dip in velocity.
While last season wasn’t pretty overall for De La Rosa, there were encouraging signs, as FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron wrote last week. De La Rosa drew contact and swing rates in line with career norms, for one, and posted solid grounder and infield fly percentages (47.3 and 10.3, respectively). He also thrived during his short run as a reliever, as he recorded 24 outs on 26 batters faced and struck out 10 hitters without walking any in eight innings.
De La Rosa could now earn a place on a D-backs team whose bullpen was among the majors’ worst last year and has added a few other low-cost relievers this offseason. It should help De La Rosa’s cause that Arizona’s ’pen isn’t exactly teeming with proven lefties.