The Phillies signed right-hander Carlos Zambrano to a Minor League deal on May 15, setting July 1 as an opt-out date. Zambrano worked himself back into game shape, then started at Single-A Clearwater, then Double-A Reading, and most recently with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Entering tonight’s start, his last in the Phillies’ Minor League system at least, he had posted a 1.89 ERA in 31.1 innings. Despite the nice ERA, reports have been less than enthusiastic, citing a sub-90 MPH fastball and baffling inefficiency. As time went on, it became more and more clear that Zambrano wasn’t going to earn that coveted promotion to the Majors.
Tonight, his fate has been sealed. He left his start against the Durham Bulls after only two innings with an apparent arm injury. The Phillies will seek to bolster their flimsy starting rotation elsewhere (if they even do at all) while the 32-year-old Zambrano will seek a path to the Major Leagues elsewhere.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.