The Cleveland Indians announced a pair of minor league additions on Friday night, as the club has come to terms with free agent pitchers Steve Delabar and Travis Banwart on minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to spring training next month.
Delabar would appear to be one of the Indians’ reclamation project signings that they make most offseasons for the bullpen. The 33-year-old right-hander and 2013 All-Star completed his sixth Major League season last year, spending seven games with the Cincinnati Reds before a midseason release. He also spent time with the Reds’ Triple-A Louisville affiliate and pitched overseas briefly with the Hiroshima Carp of the Japan Central League.
Delabar entered the professional game in 2003 when he was selected in the 29th round of the draft by the San Diego Padres, but was released in 2008 after failing to get higher than the High-A level of their farm system. He pitched in independent ball for several seasons after and was out of baseball in 2010 before signing with the Seattle Mariners in 2011. He made an improbable debut in the Majors that same year after pitching at three minor league levels for the Mariners earlier that season.
After appearing in 34 games with Seattle in 2012, he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays just prior to the trade deadline. He worked in 27 games for the club that season and 55 during his 2013 All-Star campaign, but his results declined over the next two years and he was released prior to the 2016 season.
He struck out ten and walked ten in eight innings of eight games for the Reds last season, giving up six runs on five hits with one home run allowed (6.75 ERA and 1.88 WHIP) before being granted his release in June.
The addition of Banwart marks a return to the Cleveland organization for the 30-year-old right-hander, who spent 16 games with the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus affiliate in 2014 before heading to Korea for the last two and a half years.
He was a fourth round selection out of Wichita State University by the Oakland A’s in 2007 and signed with the Indians in December of 2013. After a 5-2 record with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP to start his 2014 season (his sixth straight with action at the Triple-A level), he was given his release and he signed with the SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization. He went 9-1 for the Wyverns in eleven games to close out that season and was 5-3 in 12 starts the following year.
He remained in the KBO in 2016, pitching with the KT Wiz while posting a 6-13 record with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP in 27 games (26 starts). He was teammates with former Indians farmhands Andy Marte and Yohan Pino and northeast Ohio native Ryan Feierabend while with the Wiz.
Having worked a majority of his career as a starting pitcher, it would appear that the addition of Banwart could provide additional rotation depth for the Indians at the Triple-A level. Delabar could challenge for one of the two projected bullpen spots up for grabs during Spring Training.
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