The Yankees have signed left-hander Tyler Lyons to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune (Twitter link). He’s the second veteran reliever the club has added on a minor league deal this week and the third veteran piece of bullpen depth the club has picked up overall. New York inked righty David Hernandez to a minor league contract two days ago and also claimed right-hander Ryan Dull off waivers from the Giants this week.
Lyons, 30, was released by the Pirates earlier this week but has posted strong numbers in Triple-A in 2019: a 3.35 ERA (3.46 FIP) with 10.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.79 HR/9 and a 39.8 percent ground-ball rate in 45 2/3 innings. He made three big league appearances with Pittsburgh as well but was tagged for five runs in four innings during that time.
Not long ago, Lyons was a reliable bullpen option for the Cardinals. The lefty logged 162 innings with a 3.33 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 from 2015-17 out of the St. Louis bullpen. His best season, in 2017, saw Lyons put together a 2.83 ERA and a near-identical 2.86 FIP to go along with a career-best 30.9 percent strikeout rate (11.33 K/9).
With that being his third straight quality season in the Majors, Lyons looked to have established himself as a go-to reliever for the Cardinals. However, his 2018 campaign was shortened by back and elbow issues, and the Cards cut him loose in what looked at the time to be a potentially hasty DFA that summer after a total of just 16 innings. Lyons went unclaimed on waivers, though, and took a minor league pact with Pittsburgh this offseason. He’ll now hope to pitch his way back to the big leagues in the Bronx. He’d technically be arbitration-eligible for another two seasons if he impresses the Yankees’ front office, though he’d need a quick call to the big leagues and a very strong showing to convince the club to tender him a contract this winter.