MiLB: Recent notable minor-league signings around the league 03.03.22

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 19: Patrick Kivlehan #3 of the Cincinnati Reds takes an at bat during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. St. Louis defeated Cincinnati 8-7 in ten innings. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 19: Patrick Kivlehan #3 of the Cincinnati Reds takes an at bat during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. St. Louis defeated Cincinnati 8-7 in ten innings. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

With the news that the start of the Major League Baseball season will officially be delayed, it’s time for fans to redirect their attention to the minor-league side of things.

With major league transactions frozen due to the lockout, teams are still able to sign players to fill out their farm system. The MiLB season is slated to begin on April 5 and will feature some recognizable names. Players have began to sign minor-league contracts as a way to guarantee that they’ll get playing time in the upcoming season, perhaps in an attempt to raise their value or to gain playing time coming off of injuries.

Let’s take a look at some of the minor-league signings throughout the league in the past week.

New York Mets sign RHP R.J. Alvarez to MiLB deal 03/01

It is about to be seven years since R.J. Alvarez‘s last major league appearances. The right-handed relief pitcher signed a minors deal with the New York Mets on March 1 and should begin the year at the club’s Triple-A affiliate. Alvarez has bounced around between the Cubs, Athletics, Rangers, Marlins and Brewers since his last MLB appearances in 2015. The 30-year-old righty appeared in 38 games last season for the Brewers Triple-A affiliate, posting a 4.08 ERA in 35 innings.

Chicago Cubs sign RHP Kevin McCarthy to MiLB deal 03/01

30-year-old Kevin McCarthy was brought aboard by the Chicago Cubs on March 1 as well. McCarthy has quite a bit of big league experience under his belt in a pretty successful five-year stint with the Royals. He spent his time in 2021 in the Red Sox and White Sox systems, posting a combined 7.74 ERA in 35 games and 43 innings. McCarthy was efficient at limiting home runs in the big leagues but will need to bring them back down if he is to resurface with the Cubs.

Washington Nationals sign RHP Jordan Weems to MiLB deal 02/27

Along with the previously reported signing of Carl Edwards Jr., the Washington Nationals have also brought aboard right-hander Jordan Weems. Weems, 29, has struggled mightily in his first 16 games at the big league level; posting a 6.86 ERA and 15 earned runs in just 19+ innings. He has not posted an ERA below 4.00 in any full season since 2019 at the Red Sox’s Double-A affiliate and is a converted catcher-turned-pitcher.

Tampa Bay Rays sign RHP David McKay to MiLB deal 02/27

26-year-old David McKay, recently brought aboard by the Tampa Bay Rays, has also struggled at the big league level through his first 26 games and 26 innings. He is exclusively a relief pitcher and relies heavily on a fastball-slider/curveball mix. His breaking pitch is by far the best offering in his arsenal and allowed just a .154 batting average-against in 2019. McKay missed all of last season while recovering from hip surgery.

Atlanta Braves sign RHP Brandyn Sittinger to MiLB deal 02/27

Brandyn Sittinger, 27, made his big league debut last year for the Diamondbacks and was non-tendered at season’s end. The right-handed reliever signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves a few days ago and will serve as organizational depth out of the bullpen. Sittinger performed well in the Dbacks’ minor-league system last season but struggled mightily in 2019. He is a very high strikeout pitcher, as evidenced by his 12.1 SO/9 rate last season, and is an intriguing arm to watch for the Braves.

Chicago White Sox sign LHP Wes Benjamin to MiLB deal 02/27

28-year old southpaw Wes Benjamin had spent the first eight seasons of his professional career as a member of the Texas Rangers before electing minor-league free agency at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Benjamin is capable of operating as a starter or reliever and will give his new team, the Chicago White Sox, some much needed minors depth. He has had a hard time limiting walks and home runs and will need to improve in those departments in order to crack the big league roster in 2022.

Chicago White Sox sign INF/OF Patrick Kivlehan to MiLB deal 02/27

Patrick Kivlehan, 32, is a versatile right-handed power bat that has yet to capitalize on his brief appearances in the big leagues to this point. Kivlehan was recently signed by the Chicago White Sox to a minors deal and is capable of playing both infield corner spots and all three outfield positions. He regularly hits over 20 home runs a year in the minors but has a hard time with striking out too much.

New York Mets sign RHP Felix Pena to MiLB deal 02/25

Felix Pena, 32, is still just a little over two years removed from being the starting pitcher of a combined no-hitter in 2019 with the Angels. Recently brought aboard by the New York Mets, Pena is capable of operating in a multitude of roles on a pitching staff; including starting, long relief, middle relief, and even closing in emergency situations. The righty spent last season in the Angels minor-league system and posted horrendous results. In 31 games (7 starts), Pena posted an 8.03 ERA after allowing 61 earned runs in just 68 innings.

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Over the past week, free agent players have become increasingly more interested in signing minor-league deals in attempts to guarantee playing time in the upcoming campaign. With the recently announced cancellation of MLB games in 2022, look for many more to start flocking to the minors.