8:28am: Devenski’s contract is a minor league deal,
7:34am: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a deal with right-handed reliever Chris Devenski, tweets Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The MVP Sports client underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery in September and elected free agency after clearing waivers in October.
Devenski, 30, has spent his entire Major League career to date with the Astros organization. Originally a 25th-round pick of the White Sox back in 2011, he found himself traded to Houston just 14 months after the draft, as part of the deal sending Brett Myers to Chicago.
It wasn’t that long ago that Devenski looked to be an emerging bullpen weapon for the ’Stros. “Devo” finished fourth in American League Rookie of the Year voting back in 2016 after racking up 108 1/3 innings of 2.16 ERA ball with a 3.23 SIERA, a 25.5 percent strikeout rate and a minuscule 4.9 percent walk rate. He was similarly effective in 2017, tossing 80 2/3 frames with a 2.68 ERA/2.99 SIERA and what still stands as a career-best 31.6 percent strikeout mark.
Devenski took a step back in 2018-20, however. Although his strikeout and walk numbers remained generally solid, he began giving up hard contact at increasing rates and became exceptionally homer-prone, averaging 1.73 long balls surrendered per nine frames in that time. Statcast measured his 2016-17 hard-hit rate at just 26.7 percent, but his 2018-19 mark jumped all the way to 35.2 percent.
Prior to this past September’s elbow surgery, Devenski threw just 3 2/3 innings, having spent the rest of the year on the injured list. In that small sample of work, his once-94.8 mph average fastball had dipped to 92.9 mph.
There’s plenty of upside for the D-backs in signing Devenski, who’ll add an experienced arm to a largely untested group of Arizona relievers. In terms of service time, right-hander Yoan Lopez (2.011) is the most experienced reliever on the Diamondbacks’ 40-man roster. Arizona also added veteran southpaw Ryan Buchter on a minor league contract just yesterday, and it stands to reason that GM Mike Hazen and his staff will continue to hunt for affordable bullpen help in the weeks ahead.