The Philadelphia Phillies have signed veteran right-hander Juan Cruz to a minor-league contract with and invitation to spring training, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
Juan Cruz sign w/ phillies. Minor-league deal w/ big-league invite.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 16, 2013
Cruz, 34, actually put together a pretty solid campaign in 2012, posting a 2.78 ERA and 8.3 K/9 rate in 35⅔ innings with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His success did not keep the Bucs from cutting him in late August, however, and the right-hander has been looking for a new home ever since.
The 12-year MLB veteran has never had a good command of the strike zone -- he owns career walk rate of 4.8 batters per nine -- but he has had pockets of success in years when he has been able to complement the free passes with a high strikeout rate. At one point, the right-hander's K rate fluctuated from 12.8 to 6.8 in a two-season span, his ERA moving right along with it from great (2.61) to terrible (5.71).
Since his implosion year with the Royals in 2009, Cruz owns a very nice 3.51 ERA in 89⅔ innings. If he is able to maintain his strikeout numbers in spring, he probably has a good chance of making the Phillies' bullpen out of camp.