The Texas Rangers have signed Jerad Eickhoff to a minor league deal, the team announced today. The 30 year old righthanded has been assigned to the Alternate Training Site.
The is an interesting signing on a couple of levels. First of all, it is the Rangers bringing back a pitcher they dealt away just over five years ago, as Eickhoff was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies, along with Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Alec Asher and Matt Harrison, at the trade deadline in 2015 for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman. Eickhoff was a 15th round pick of the Rangers in 2011, and had been pitching for Round Rock that season when he was dealt.
Eickhoff made 8 starts for the Phillies in 2015 post trade and had a 2.65 ERA, then followed that up with a 3.65 ERA and 4.19 FIP in 197.1 IP in 2016. Eickhoff struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness after that, however, and was released at the end of the 2019 season. Still, with a career bWAR of 6.0, he’s had the best career to date of anyone the Rangers gave up in that deal.
San Diego signed Eickhoff this offseason, and he was briefly on their active roster, though he didn’t appear in a game this year for them. Eickhoff was released a couple of days ago by the Padres, making him a free agent and thus eligible to sign with Texas.
Eickhoff could just be a depth signing, a guy the Rangers have added in case they need an arm at some point. That said, one could see this as a sign the team thinks that Lance Lynn and Mike Minor are more likely than not to get moved, which would open up spots in the rotation the team would need to fill.
Its also worth noting that Eickhoff is arbitration eligible this offseason — Texas could, if they like what they see from him, add him to the 40 man roster and keep him around for 2021 on what would likely be a fairly low salary, much like they did with Rafael Montero last year. My initial reaction is that this is just a kind of odd depth pickup, but I thought that about Derek Dietrich and he immediately was on the big league roster, so I shall wait and see on Eickhoff.