The Rangers announced Wednesday that they’ve signed right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng to a minor league contract. The former Cubs righty, who was designated for assignment released recently, will head to extended Spring Training begin a throwing program, per Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake.
Tseng, 24, was a fairly high-profile signing for the Cubs back in 2013, receiving a $1.625MM signing bonus as an 18-year-old amateur out of Taiwan. He was considered one of the Cubs’ more promising young arms for years after his signing and breezed through much of his minor league tenure, posting quality numbers against older, more experienced competition en route to a brief cup of coffee with the big league team in 2017.
The 2018 season, however, was a disaster for Tseng. After logging a 1.80 ERA in 55 1/3 Triple-A innings in 2017, Tseng was tattooed for a 6.27 earned run average in 136 1/3 frames there last year. He allowed a career-high 2.9 walks per nine innings pitched and a career-worst 1.32 homers per nine frames in last year’s ugly showing. While Tseng’s modest strikeout rate made that 2017 ERA look ripe for at least some regression even at the time, few would’ve expected such a stark downturn in his performance. Spring Training wasn’t any prettier in 2019, as Tseng yielded eight runs on eight hits and two walks with just one strikeout in 4 2/3 innings in Major League camp.
Those struggles were enough for the Cubs to move on, but the Rangers, known to be on the lookout for rotation depth, are in a better position to give a chance to a young arm not far removed from success in the upper minors. Unlike the Cubs, the Rangers didn’t enter the season with legitimate postseason aspirations. Given the patchwork nature of their rotation (plus injuries to Yohander Mendez and Edinson Volquez), Texas not only has a need for depth but also a relatively clear path to an opportunity for Tseng if he can get out to a strong start once he joins a minor league affiliate.