The Yankees added bullpen depth on Monday by signing hard-throwing left-handed reliever Rex Brothers to a minor-league contract, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported.
Brothers, who turned 32 on Tuesday, has good numbers over 314 career relief appearances in seven seasons as a big leaguer, but he spent almost all of last season struggling in the minors.
Brothers throws in the high 90s – he hit 97 in his only big-league appearance last season – but he’s had control problems throughout his career.
The 6-foot, 215-pound native of Tennessee made the Braves’ roster out of spring training last season, but he was farmed out after walking the only two batters that he faced during an Opening Day relief appearance and wound up spending the remainder of the year in the minors.
In the minors, Brothers was 5-5 with a 6.20 ERA over 43 appearances with 56 strikeouts and 44 walks over 40.2 innings. He was 2-4 with a 7.24 ERA in 32 International League games for Triple-A Gwinnett through mid-July, then was demoted to Double-A Mississippi and finished the season going 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA pitching in the Southern League.
Brothers has a 20-14 record and 3.79 ERA in the majors pitching for the Colorado Rockies (2011-15) and Atlanta Braves (2017-18). His best season was 2012 when he was 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA working 67.2 innings over 72 outings for the Rockies. The previous season he was 8-2 with a 3.85 ERA in 72 appearances.
For the Yankees, Brothers will head into spring training having an outside shot of winning a roster spot if the club doesn’t re-sign free agent reliever Zach Britton or add another left-handed bullpen piece through free agency or a trade.
The Yankees currently have just two left-handed relievers on their 40-man roster: Aroldis Chapman, a five-time All-Star, and Stephen Tarpley, who debuted in the majors last September after spending most of 2018 in the minors.