The Diamondbacks announced this morning that they have signed left-handed relief pitcher T.J. McFarland to a minor-league contract, with an invitation to spring training. McFarland has pitched the last four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, after they picked him off the Cleveland Indians in the 2012 Rule 5 draft. He had a good first couple of seasons out of the Orioles’ pen, peaking with a 2.76 ERA over 58.2 innings in 2014. But he struggled last year, and was optioned to the minors about a month into the season. He ended up posting a 6.93 ERA over 16 appearances and 24.2 innings, with a K:BB of 7:10 - which explains a lot of the struggles, right there.
McFarland is a groundball heavy pitcher, with a groundout ratio of 2.34, more than twice the MLB average (1.11). But the almost complete absence of strikeouts last year meant an awful lot of balls in play, and even though his BABIP wasn’t that bad (.333), those translated to a hefty .340 average against him. It was a bit surprising the Orioles waived him, having already agreed to a deal (worth $685K) with McFarland for the coming season. Nobody claimed him, and it appears the minor-league deal offered by the D-backs was superior to the Orioles one.
He offers another left-handed candidate for the bullpen. His main rivals will likely be Andrew Chafin and perhaps Jorge De La Rosa, with Steve Hathaway, Brian Matusz, Yuhei Nakaushiro and Jared Miller among the other possibilities.