Yankees Sign Chi Chi Gonzalez, Jacob Barnes To Minor League Deals

The Yankees have signed a trio of pitchers — Chi Chi González, Jacob Barnes and Wilking Rodríguez — to minor league contracts, tweets Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune. All three have been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

González and Barnes were recently together in the Tigers system, but both were each granted their release from non-roster pacts with Detroit. González has now joined four organizations this year. He began the season with the Twins, bouncing on and off the major league roster twice. Claimed off waivers by the Brewers, he combined to work 18 1/3 innings over six appearances (four starts). González posted a 6.87 ERA — his third consecutive season with an ERA north of 6.00 — between the two clubs, and he was eventually outrighted off Milwaukee’s roster.

The 30-year-old righty signed a minor league deal with Detroit in late July. He spent a month in the system but didn’t get a big league call, and he triggered an opt-out clause last week. Between the Twins and Tigers top minor league affiliates, González has worked to a 4.19 ERA through 58 Triple-A innings this season. He has plenty of starting experience in both the majors and upper minors, giving the Yankees a multi-inning depth arm.

Barnes is on his third organization of the season. The right-hander broke camp with Detroit after signing an offseason minor league deal. He appeared in 22 games but was tagged for a 6.10 ERA over 20 2/3 innings. He racked up grounders on over half the batted balls against him, but he only struck out 11.2% of batters faced. The lack of swing-and-miss was bizarre, as Barnes posted above-average strikeout rates in 2020 and ’21 and was still averaging a robust 95.5 MPH on his fastball.

Detroit took Barnes off their big league roster in mid-June. The 32-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Mariners and was briefly called up, but he did not appear in an MLB game with Seattle before being designated for assignment. Barnes again cleared waivers, elected free agency, and returned to Detroit on a minor league deal in late July. He spent a month in Triple-A before being granted his release. While his MLB production this year has been lackluster, Barnes has an excellent 17:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio while allowing just two runs in ten Triple-A innings.

Rodríguez, 32, makes a long-awaited return to the affiliated ranks. The right-hander has the briefest of major league experience, having come out of the bullpen twice for the 2014 Royals. He hasn’t played for an MLB organization since a seven-game Triple-A stint with the Yankees in 2015, as he’s primarily played winter ball over the past six years. Rodríguez has spent 2022 in the Mexican League, posting a 2.01 ERA over 44 2/3 innings and apparently impressing Yankees evaluators with his arsenal.

All three pitchers would be eligible for New York’s postseason roster if they impress enough to warrant a spot in October. Players need to be within an organization by September 1 to suit up for that club in the playoffs. Any player on a 40-man roster or MLB injured list by the end of August is automatically postseason-eligible (unless they’d been suspended for a performance-enhancing drug violation that season). Those within the organization but not on the 40-man at the start of September can still be added to the postseason roster to replace a player on the injured list via petition to the commissioner’s office.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported González was signing with the Yankees.

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