Ken Rosenthal brings the heat on Brandon Inge, who was cut loose by the Tigers on Thursday:
With so many teams expressing interest — the Orioles, Twins and Diamondbacks among them — it seemed likely that Inge would take his time and carefully consider all his options. But the 11-11 Athletics can offer regular looks at third base, where they’ve shuffled through Eric Sogard, Josh Donaldson and now Luke Hughes since losing Scott Sizemore to season-ending knee surgery. And that immediate availability of playing time clearly (and, well, quickly) appealed to the 34-year-old veteran most.
Inge was batting .100 with a .400 OPS in 20 plate appearances for Detroit. He’s a .264/.340/.458 career hitter against left-handed pitchers and has 140 career home runs. He can be useful in a hot-corner platoon.
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.
Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.
His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.
The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.