The Diamondbacks have claimed reliever Kyle Nelson off waivers from the Guardians, per announcements from both teams. Cleveland also announced that outfielder Daniel Johnson, right-hander Justin Garza and left-hander Alex Young have all cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Columbus. Arizona’s 40-man roster is now full.
Nelson has briefly appeared in the majors in each of the past two seasons. He’s tallied just 10 1/3 combined innings, allowing fourteen runs with nine walks and eight strikeouts. The southpaw has struggled to a 5.26 ERA in 37 2/3 career frames at the Triple-A level as well, but he’d kept runs off the board and punched out batters in droves up through Double-A.
During his limited MLB time, Nelson leaned primarily on a cutter and slider mix. He averaged just under 89 MPH on the cutter and worked in the low-80s with his slider, relying more on movement than velocity. The D-Backs have almost no certainty in the bullpen, as they’re not returning a single reliever who tossed 20+ innings with a SIERA below 4.00 this past season. There should be an opportunity for Nelson to compete for a role in Spring Training, if he sticks on the 40-man roster all winter. He still has a pair of minor league option years remaining, so the D-Backs could shuttle him between Phoenix and Triple-A Reno through 2023 as long as he remains on the 40-man.
Each of Johnson, Garza and Young was designated for assignment last Friday, as Cleveland somewhat remarkably overturned around one quarter of their 40-man roster before the deadline to keep prospects from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The Guardians also traded Harold Ramírez and J.C. Mejia (to the Cubs and Brewers, respectively), while losing Scott Moss on waivers to the Phillies.
Johnson has been a fairly well-regarded prospect during his days in the Nationals and Cleveland farm systems, but he hasn’t hit well over his first 94 big league plate appearances. He’ll remain in the organization as non-roster depth and hope to play his way back into an uncertain Guardians’ outfield mix next spring.
Garza and Young logged some big league time in the bullpen this past season, with Young coming over from the D-Backs as a waiver claim in July. Garza pitched to a 4.71 ERA/4.79 SIERA across 28 2/3 innings; Young worked 10 1/3 innings of 7.84 ERA/6.24 SIERA ball with Cleveland. Both hurlers have ample starting experience during their pro careers as well.