The Yankees announced Wednesday that they’ve signed right-hander Tony Zych to a minor league contract. The former Mariners reliever, a client of ISE Baseball, will be in Major League camp with the team this spring.
It’s been more than two years since Zych, 29, threw his last pitch at the big league level, as injuries have beset the righty for much of his career. Zych had surgery to repair a biceps/shoulder injury back in 2016 and was slowed by a forearm issue in 2017. He didn’t pitch at all in 2019 — an absence that stemming from 2018 thoracic outlet surgery.
Though Zych has a long line of arm troubles in his past, he’s been impressive when he’s been able to take the mound. The 2011 fourth-rounder (Cubs) has logged 72 2/3 innings in the big leagues and compiled a 2.72 ERA/3.22 FIP with 9.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 0.37 HR/9 and a 49.7 percent ground-ball rate. Right-handed batters have posted an awful .216/.327/.269 batting line against him, while lefties have hit him at just a .217/.311/.370 clip. Zych has faced 203 right-handed hitters in the Majors without allowing a home run.
The track record of pitchers coming back from TOS surgery isn’t great, and the Yankees have a rather impressive bullpen mix as is. But Zych’s track record of big league success is rather impressive, so even if he doesn’t crack the Opening Day roster, he’ll be a nice piece to stash in Triple-A if his arm is back at full strength.