The Diamondbacks have signed free agent right-handed reliever Tom Wilhelmsen to a minor league deal, per a team announcement on Friday. The contract comes with an invitation to spring training.
Wilhelmsen was released by the Mariners in November. The 33-year-old split his 2016 run between the Rangers and Mariners, pitching to a combined 6.80 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 5.4 SO/9 that reflected a tough stretch in Texas during the first half of the season. His career stats should give the Diamondbacks some reassurance, however, as the righty carries a 3.46 ERA, 4.0 BB/9 and 8.1 SO/9 through six years in the majors. He peaked in Seattle during the 2012 season, putting up a career-best 1.6 fWAR for the club after ousting fellow right-hander Brandon League from the closer’s spot.
Wilhelmsen figures to be in the mix for another major league gig this spring. Many of the Diamondback’s bullpen spots appear to be up for grabs behind right-handers Jake Barrett and Randall Delgado and closer Fernando Rodney, though the team has no shortage of short-term options to consider.
The Royals signed right-hander Brandon League to a minor league deal on Saturday, according to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. The 33-year-old is one of 22 non-roster invitees and was picked up along with fellow right-handers Al Alburquerque and Chris Withrow.
Of the three, League has the most obstacles to overcome in order to land a spot on the Royals’ roster this spring. He hasn’t pitched professionally since 2015, when he made 10 appearances for the Dodgers’ High-A and Triple-A affiliates while recovering from shoulder impingement. Prior to 2015, he played three years with the Dodgers at the major league level, sustaining a cumulative 3.55 ERA and 0.1 fWAR over 144 2/3 innings.
In a best-case scenario, League could provide the kind of production value he amassed during his last season with the Dodgers, complete with the career-best 2.57 ERA and 0.0 HR/9 rate. At worst, his age and chronic shoulder problems will force the Royals to turn to another veteran arm. At least for the time being, it looks like they have plenty to choose from.