The Tigers announced they have signed left-hander Jace Fry to a minor league deal, as well as announcing the previously-reported deal with righty Matt Wisler. Both pitchers have received invitations to major league Spring Training.
Fry, 29, was a mainstay of the White Sox’ bullpen from 2018 to 2020. In those three seasons, he made 145 appearances with a 4.43 ERA, with control being a notable Achilles’ heel. He struck out 29.6% of batters faced in that time and got grounders at a 51.2% rate, but his 13.7% walk rate was well above average.
Going into 2021, he underwent a microdiscectomy procedure on his back and didn’t make his season debut in the big leagues until July. He struggled in his return and was frequently optioned for the rest of the year, eventually posting a 10.80 in six appearances and getting outrighted at season’s end.
Last year, he signed a minor league deal with the Nats and posted a 3.77 ERA over 15 Triple-A appearances but then opted out when he didn’t get a roster spot and signed another minor league deal with the Phillies. Unfortunately, things soured from there, as he made 18 more Triple-A appearances with a 6.75 ERA after switching organizations. The profile was still fairly similar to his previous work, as he struck out 30.1% of batters on the year between those two stints, but walked 11.3% of them.
For the Tigers, there’s little harm in bringing Fry into camp to see how he looks. Their bullpen should look quite different from a year ago, with Michael Fulmer, Gregory Soto and Joe Jiménez having been traded and Andrew Chafin departing via free agency. That could potentially open up some opportunities for others this season.
Right now, the only lefties on the club’s 40-man roster are Matthew Boyd, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tarik Skubal, Joey Wentz and Tyler Alexander. Boyd and Rodriguez will be in the rotation, with Skubal joining them whenever he recovers from flexor tendon surgery. Wentz figures to be starting in the minors, leaving Alexander as the only southpaw likely to be in the big league bullpen. Fry will be competing with other non-roster invitees in camp such as Chasen Shreve and Miguel Del Pozo. If he can make his way onto the roster, he still has one option remaining and can be shuttled between the majors and minors. He could also be retained for future seasons via arbitration as he’s currently between three and four years of MLB service time.