Juan Cruz has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Phillies, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Last offseason Cruz signed with the Pirates on a minor-league contract and was released in August despite posting a 2.78 ERA in 36 innings at age 33. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was much less impressive at 33-to-19, but he’s had an ERA below 4.00 in five of the past six seasons and could be a useful middle reliever in Philadelphia.
Cruz’s deal includes an invitation to spring training. Last year he refused to pitch in the minors, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens if he doesn’t win an Opening Day gig.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.