Michael Kirkman announced Friday underwent his fourth and final treatment for skin cancer this week and will now be able to focus on making an impact out of the pen for the Rangers.
The 25-year-old Kirkman was diagnosed with skin cancer this spring, though it went undisclosed until a month ago. He pitched for Triple-A Round Rock while undergoing treatment, and though he struggled mightily in April, he improved as the season progressed and received a callup to Texas on June 12.
Kirkman has pitched two scoreless innings since the promotion, though he has walked three. Control was the problem in Triple-A, as well, as he walked 31 while amassing a 5.25 ERA in 48 innings. With better command, he might yet have a future as a starting pitcher in the majors. The Rangers don’t need him in the rotation right now, though.
The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.
Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.
While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.