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Diamondbacks Sign Left-Handed Reliever Wesley Wright to a Minor League Deal

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Wright gives the Diamondbacks another left-handed option in the bullpen in Spring Training.

Wesley Wright gives the Diamondbacks a veteran LOOGY in the bullpen.
Wesley Wright gives the Diamondbacks a veteran LOOGY in the bullpen.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Diamondbacks have been in the market looking for a veteran reliever and they added one with the signing of Wesley Wright to a minor league deal with an invitation to tryout for the 25-man roster in Spring Training. That now gives the Diamondbacks four left-handed options to look at in Spring Training. We all know Andrew Chafin will make the club given how important he was to the team last year in his ability to be flexible as a former starter. Wright, Matt Reynolds, and Keith Hessler are more of the match-up lefty type or what the industry calls a LOOGY. Wright and Reynolds have had previous success at the major league level and Hessler is an interesting bottom tier prospect, but of the three Wright has had the most successful career to date. Injuries limited Wright to 7 1/3 innings in the 2015 season and he'll be 31 when Spring Training opens up, so there is a bit of concern about age, but we've seen LOOGYs pitch late into their 30s because of less wear on the arm since they're averaging less innings per appearance.

Here is a 2011-2014 Snapshot of Wright vs. LHB, I ignored 2015 because he was injured:

Year TBF K% BB% Hard Hit% GB% HR/FB% BABIP wOBA
2011 30 36.7 13.3 0.0 53.3 0.0 .067 .122
2012 133 29.3 6.8 24.1 61.7 12.5 .272 .245
2013 123 22.8 7.3 22.9 58.0 16.7 .325 .331
2014 85 23.5 5.9 32.2 49.1 0.0 .356 .273

*Stats compiled using Fangraphs

Repertoire:

  • Upper 80s Fastball, sits around 87-89 MPH, hits up to 91.
  • Slider, reduced usage last year but best pitch for him over his career
  • Knuckle Curve, increased usage recently and has improved the last two years
  • Change-Up, about 6 MPH velocity drop from fastball
According to Fangraphs, his curveball and slider were his two most effective pitches in the 2015 with the slider being his most consistent pitch over his career. In terms of runs above average, the slider has graded positively for him for basically his entire career and the curveball has come on lately. The fastball and the change-up don't grade positively, but they aren't a low enough negative to be an issue. The fact his best pitches are breaking balls suggests a LOOGY role at the MLB level even if he wasn't previously used in that role. 2012 and 2013 were the two years where he received more plate appearances against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters and he did fairly well those years.

Over his career, he's much more effective as a LOOGY, with his best season coming in 2012 where he held them to a .197/.265/.273 slash-line and over his career a .234/.313/.334 mark against him. Should he make the team, Chip Hale should only use him in a match-up capacity given his career struggles against right-handed hitters. The one concerning trend here is the 10% jump in hard-hit rate and 10% drop in ground ball rate from 2013 to 2014, but batters were less productive against him in general. The Diamondbacks were in the market for a veteran reliever and wanted to bolster their left-handed relieving depth, which Wright does for them. It should be interesting to see how he competes for a bullpen spot in Spring Training.