The Yankees announced that right-hander Michael Feliz has been released so he can pursue a new opportunity in Nippon Professional Baseball. Feliz will head from New York to Nagoya, as he has agreed to sign with the Chunichi Dragons.
It will be the second international league of the 2023 season for Feliz, as he previously pitched with Yucatan of the Mexican League before catching on with the Yankees on a minor league contract in May. Feliz looked pretty sharp over 13 games and 13 1/3 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a 3.38 ERA, 27.8% strikeout rate, and 9.8% walk rate, but it seems like that a call-up to the majors wasn’t forthcoming, so Feliz had permission to seek out new employment in NPB.
Feliz has appeared in parts of every MLB season from 2015-22, and is best known for his time as a workhorse reliever with the Astros and Pirates. The righty averaged 54 innings per season with Houston and Pittsburgh from 2016-19, with a 4.85 ERA over those four seasons and a World Series ring for his role with the Astros’ 2017 championship squad.
Since those halcyon days, Feliz has been hampered by several injuries, and subsequently bounced around to several different teams. Feliz has pitched for four different teams at the big league level since the start of the 2020 season, but accumulated only 25 total innings and appearances in those three seasons. Feliz also pitched in the minors for the Twins and Yankees without suiting up for either team in the majors. His last MLB game was just over a year ago, as his 3 1/3 innings of work for the Red Sox on July 8, 2022 was his only appearance of the 2022 season.
The move to Japan represents yet another change of scenery for Feliz, who turned 30 last month. There’s still plenty of time for a career revival and a potential future return to the majors, and his solid numbers in Triple-A and in the Mexican League hint that he might some success in NPB.