RHP Barbato claimed off waivers from Pirates

January 11th, 2018

DETROIT -- The Tigers added an arm to what is expected to be a wide-open bullpen competition by claiming right-hander Johnny Barbato off waivers from the Pirates on Thursday.

The Tigers have been scouring the free-agent market for relief help, but have essentially been priced out as teams stock up. They'll take a look at Barbato, who has 37 Major League appearances over the last two seasons between the Yankees and Pirates. Pittsburgh designated Barbato for assignment last week.

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Barbato posted a 4.08 ERA in 24 appearances during two stints with the Buccos bullpen, striking out 23 batters over 28 2/3 innings. Most of those appearances were in low-leverage situations, usually with the Pirates trailing; he recorded only one hold for the season. The 25-year-old has a career strikeout rate of 8.2 per nine innings.

Barbato's fastball has averaged just over 94 mph in his Major League appearances, complemented by a slider and curve.

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Barbato joins a bullpen that had more than its share of struggles last year and correspondingly has no set roles beyond closer and setup man Alex Wilson. is the leading candidate in a wave of young arms on the way, but Jimenez is the only one likely to win a job out of Spring Training. Most aren't expected to threaten for a spot until midseason, barring injuries.

The Tigers had an open spot on their 40-man roster from last month's Winter Meetings. That had been expected to go toward a free-agent signing, but the Tigers' dealings over the past month have all been Minor League contracts and non-roster invites. Thus, no corresponding roster move was necessary to make room for Barbato.