According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, the Toronto Blue Jays have inked pitcher Lucas Harrell to a minor league deal. The 31-year old will receive an invitation to spring training as part of the agreement.
Harrell split time with the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers last season posting a 4.21 earned run average in 9 major league starts. He also made 11 minor league starts in 2016 earning a 3.06 ERA while down on the farm.
The hurler has been predominately utilized as a starter throughout his six-year career starting 71 out of 97 games with the White Sox, Astros, Braves and Rangers.
Although the Jays desperately need bullpen arms, they may keep Harrell stretched out to act as a security blanket should one of the top five succumb to an injury.
The hurler has enjoyed success at the major league level as a starter, in 2012 he tossed 193.2 innings with the Astros sporting a very respectable 3.76 ERA with 140 strikeouts and a 3.1 WAR on the season. He was also a teammate of newly signed Blue Jay Steve Pearce during that campaign.
Harrell spent the 2015 season with the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization where he started 30 contests and put up a 4.93 ERA with a 1.649 WHIP while abroad.
The right-hander’s splits are similar although he does enjoy a little more success versus lefties to the tune of a .260 average as opposed to a .281 average against righties.
Harrell owns a career 53.2 ground ball percentage which should bode well in the homer-friendly confines of the Rogers Centre. To put into perspective Marco Estrada is at 34.6%, J.A. Happ at 39.3%, Francisco Liriano at 49.5%, Marcus Stroman at 58.2% and Aaron Sanchez at 57.3%.
In 2016, Harrell relied mainly on a 4-pitch arsenal utilizing his fastball 59.3% of the time complimented with a cutter (19.3%), curve-ball (13.9%) and a changeup (7.4%) to get batters out.
A very good low-risk signing by the Blue Jays that could pay dividends during the course of a long baseball season.