The Phillies have agreed to a minor league contract with free-agent righty Bryan Mitchell, reports Jayson Stark of The Athletic (via Twitter). He’ll presumably be invited to big league Spring Training.
Mitchell, 29, hasn’t appeared in the Majors since a disappointing stint with the Padres in 2018. The Friars effectively purchased Mitchell from the Yankees, agreeing to take on the remainder of Chase Headley’s four-year contract in order to land four years of control over Mitchell. The hope was that Mitchell could function as a viable fourth starter in San Diego, but he was hammered for a 5.42 ERA and an even uglier 5.89 SIERA with more walks (43) than strikeouts (38) in 73 innings of work. Headley, meanwhile, was released in mid-May after 60 plate appearances.
In 2019, Mitchell was dropped from the Padres’ 40-man roster prior to Opening Day. He didn’t fare well in Triple-A that year either, allowing more than a run per inning over 44 frames. Prior to that implosion in 2018-19, however, Mitchell had showed some promise. He carried a 3.18 ERA in just shy of 200 innings at the Triple-A level and had some decent big league outings, albeit without consistency (4.94 ERA through his first 98 1/3 MLB frames).
Mitchell latched on with the White Sox for the 2020 season but didn’t earn a promotion from their alternate site prior to being released in late August. Overall, he carries a 5.15 ERA and a nearly identical 5.20 SIERA in 171 1/3 big league innings. Mitchell doesn’t miss bats (13 percent strikeout rate) but does carry a 50 percent ground-ball rate. Philadelphia skipper Joe Girardi surely knows Mitchell well after managing him for parts of four seasons with the Yankees, which surely played a part in this match.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has spoken recently of bringing in some veteran rotation depth on non-roster deals, and Mitchell gives them one such player. It’s certainly possible that further additions along these lines will be made in the weeks to come as more experienced starters ultimately settle for lesser deals with Spring Training looming.