Cleveland Adds Another Candidate to Relief Corps in Free Agent Parker

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Cleveland Indians and free agent right-handed reliever Blake Parker have come to terms on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training on Monday.

Parker could earn near $2.5 million with the Tribe if he makes the club and hits incentives, per Heyman’s report.

The 35-year-old right-handed reliever spent the 2020 season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He appeared in 16 innings over 14 games (one start), posting a 3-0 record and one hold with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. The small body of work included a discouraging nine walks (5.1 BB/9), but an eye-popping 25 strikeouts (14.1 K/9) in that span.

Parker is not the hardest thrower in the league, with an average four-seam fastball velocity that tops out in the low 90s, but he has developed an arsenal over the last few years that includes an effective splitter roughly ten MPH off of his fastball and a curveball that induces some good swings and misses. He has also relied on cutters and sinkers in the past, but their use was sparingly at best.

A 16th round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs in the 2006 draft, Parker debuted for the club in 2012 and put up some intriguing numbers during the 2013 season, but he landed back in the minors in 2014 and 2015 after struggling. He returned to the Majors in 2016 with Seattle and the New York Yankees before emerging as a steady backend relief option in the bullpen of the Los Angeles Angels. He worked in 71 games in 2017, going 3-3 with a 2.54 ERA, a 0.83 WHIP, eight saves, and 15 holds. He followed that season with a 2-1 record over 67 games with a 3.26 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, 14 saves, and six holds. A free agent after that season, he signed with the Minnesota Twins, but was released just ahead of the 2019 trade deadline and signed with Philadelphia. He wrapped up a second straight season plagued by the long ball with a 3-3 record, a 4.55 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP between the two teams.

Parker is yet another name added to the list of reliever brought in by the Indians over the last couple of weeks to serve as competition in the bullpen. Cleveland has signed right-handers Heath Hembree, DJ Johnson, and longtime Indians reliever Bryan Shaw to minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to spring training earlier this month. With the release of closer Brad Hand following the season, the club is expected to see late inning work go to Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak, and Nick Wittgren, but other spots in the bullpen are up for grabs. Logan Allen, Cam Hill, Phil Maton, Kyle Nelson, and Cal Quantrill worked some in relief for the Indians a year ago and will report to Goodyear, while new faces Jordan Humphreys (November waiver claim from San Francisco) and Trevor Stephan (Rule 5 pick from the New York Yankees) will also get a look. Kyle Dowdy and Anthony Gose also return to Arizona with the Tribe as non-roster invitees.

If Parker officially joins the Tribe at its Goodyear spring training site, he will become the 72nd of the maximum 75 players eligible to participate among the player pool for camp.

Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images

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