The Rangers announced Wednesday that they’ve re-signed veteran reliever Dominic Leone to a minor league deal after his recent release. Texas also announced the signing of righty Robert Dugger to a minor league deal and optioned lefty John King to Triple-A Round Rock. Both Leone and Dugger have been assigned to Round Rock as well.
Leone, 31, is a veteran who has pitched in the past nine major league seasons. He has a career 3.69 ERA in 353 big league games. The past few years have been remarkably inconsistent, as he posted a bloated 8.38 ERA in the shortened 2020 season, but dropped that all the way to 1.51 in 2021. Last year, it evened out at a more reasonably 4.01 mark in 49 1/3 innings with the Giants. He struck out 23.4% of batters faced last year but also walked 10.8%.
That control has long been an issue for Leone, as he hasn’t posted a walk rate below 10% since 2018. Here in spring this year, he posted a 2.16 ERA over his eight appearances, but walked eight hitters and only struck out five. He wasn’t able to get himself a roster spot and the Rangers released him a few days ago, though they’ve evidently worked out a new pact to keep him around to get some work in Triple-A and serve as depth.
As for Dugger, 27, he has appeared in each of the past four seasons, suiting up for the Marlins, Mariners, Rays and Reds. He has a 7.17 ERA in his career over 27 games and 86 2/3 innings. Though his 6.19 ERA last year is roughly in line with his previous work, he did get an encouraging bump in the strikeout department. He had only punched out 14.4% of opponents in his first three seasons but got that up to 26.4% in 16 innings last year. Then again, he only struck out 18.4% of hitters in the minors, so that bump might be small sample noise.
It’s unclear whether the Rangers view Dugger as a starter or a reliever, but he’s done his share of both over the past few years. He can perhaps give the club a bit of depth in both areas of their roster. The starting rotation is already proceeding without Jake Odorizzi and Glenn Otto, as both are dealing with injuries, while the bullpen will be without Brett Martin for much of the season due to shoulder surgery.