The New York Yankees have signed veteran, 37-year-old right-hander Nelson Figueroa to a minor league deal. The former 30th round choice way back in 1995 has had more success in the minors from 1995-2006 and at the international level than in the Major Leagues in recent years.
Figueroa started the 2011 season in the MLB for the Houston Astros, but he wore out his welcome by posting a 5.11 xFIP in 29 innings as a starter. He was then sent to AAA and finished with an ERA just above 6.00 in nearly 100 innings of ball.
The ACES client will join the Yankees after last pitching for a New York team in 2008 and 2009 while with the Mets. He was worth a combined 1 WAR during those two seasons, with his best season of the two coming in 2009. He was worth 0.6 WAR after striking out 7.55 batters per nine (a total he equaled in over 100 minor league innings that year) and walking 3.07 in 70 innings to post a 4.09 ERA.
Nelson Figueroa had the best year of his career in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros. He was worth 0.8 WAR in 93 innings with a 7.03 strikeout rate and a 42.3 GB%. He finished the year with a 4.07 FIP after being helped by a .273 BABIP.
In his career, Figueroa has been worth 1.5 WAR in his career with a -6.16 WPA since 2000 and a 4.58 SIERA since 2002. Figueroa is nothing more than a AAA innings eater for the Yankees, and his career (known more for a high ERA than anything else) has been a far cry from the 1996 Pitcher of the Year while with the Capital City Bombers in the South Atlantic League. Either that or his great play in Taiwan was the highlight in his career.
The Yankees have basically signed an old, minor league innings eater in Nelson Figueroa, and he will do nothing but that for the remainder of the season- or until he gets released. Whichever one comes sooner for the pitcher who owns a good slider and nothing else (uses an 87 mile per hour fastball 55% of the time).