The Rockies have agreed to a minor league contract with free-agent lefty Fernando Abad, tweets Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Abad, a client of the MAS+ Agency, will be invited to Major League Spring Training.
Abad, 37, spent the 2022 season with the Mariners organization but didn’t reach the big leagues with Seattle. That marked just the third time since the lefty’s 2010 debut with the Astros that he did not pitch a single Major League inning in a season. That said, Abad was effective in Triple-A Tacoma, where he notched a 3.56 ERA with a 17.8% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate in 43 innings of relief.
The most recent big league experience for Abad came with the 2021 Orioles, although the results weren’t pretty. He tallied just 17 2/3 innings out of the Baltimore ’pen and was knocked around for a 5.60 ERA with just a 12.2% strikeout rate against an 8.5% walk rate. Part of that was due to an inflated .344 average on balls in play, and it’s worth noting that Abad yielded just one home run and generally did a strong job of limiting hard contact by his opponents.
From 2013-19, Abad was a strong middle relief option in the Majors. He was never a team’s primary closer or go-to setup man in that time, evidenced by just a pair of saves and 30 holds, but Abad nonetheless pitched to a 3.18 ERA while fanning 21.2% of his opponents against an 8.2% walk rate.
The Rockies project to have a pair of lefties in the bullpen as things stand, with both waiver claim Brent Suter and homegrown Lucas Gilbreath nearly assured of spots, health permitting. Gilbreath does have minor league options remaining, however, and his command in the Majors has been shaky. Abad will give him some competition for a spot in camp, and if all three lefties pitch well, there’s enough uncertainty among the final few spots in the Colorado relief corps that all three southpaws could find themselves in the Opening Day ’pen.