Japanese league closer Tony Barnette returns to America, signs with Rangers

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Tony Barnette was the Diamondbacks’ tenth-round draft pick in 2006, flamed out as a prospect, and headed to Japan in 2010 where he developed into an elite reliever.

And now he’s headed back to America, with Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star Telegram reporting that the 32-year-old right-hander has signed a two-year deal with the Rangers.

Barnette spent six seasons in Japan, posting a 3.58 ERA and 336 strikeouts in 316 innings, and is coming off a career-year in which he saved 41 games with a 1.29 ERA and 56/19 K/BB ratio in 63 frames.

He figures to begin the season in a middle relief role and it’s certainly an outside-the-box signing by Jon Daniels and the Rangers’ front office. If things go well Barnette’s contract also includes a third-year team option for 2018.