The Texas Rangers and free agent righthanded pitcher Sam Gaviglio have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with an invitation to the major league spring training, according to Steve Adams on Twitter.
Gaviglio, who turns 31 in May, was originally a 5th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, has spent time in the majors mostly with the Toronto Blue Jays, but also with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. He was a starter in the big leagues in 2017-18, a multi-inning reliever in 2019, but threw just 3 innings in 4 relief appearances in 2020 before the Jays released him in early September.
As we have discussed, the Texas Rangers rotation is currently problematic, with Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles, Kohei Arihara, Dane Dunning, and Kyle Cody currently penciled in. Gibson wasn’t good last year, however, Lyles was terrible last year, Arihara has never pitched in the U.S., Dunning has limited major league experience, and Cody has both limited major league experience and, most likely innings limitations due to time missed from Tommy John surgery.
The Rangers have a variety of internal options that theoretically could be rotation options — Kolby Allard, Joe Palumbo, Taylor Hearn, John King, Wes Benjamin, Brock Burke, Tyler Phillips — but the team is not well positioned to serve multiple injuries or performance failures in the rotation. Thus, it makes sense that there’d be mutual interest in a deal with the Rangers and Gaviglio — they need rotation insurance this spring, and he sees a better opportunity to potentiality make the roster.
Gaviglio has a 4.88 ERA and 4.98 FIP in 296.2 major league innings, so he’s someone who, if you sign him and need him, is someone you are hoping can give you some innings without killing you. Given his past work out of the pen, he’s also a potential long man option, I would think.
Gaviglio could also end up being a fit if the Rangers end up doing some non-conventional things with the staff. As noted above, the Rangers rotation is both not good and quite shallow, and the Rangers could find themselves going with a couple of multi-inning relievers tag-teaming in some games, in lieu of a conventional starter. Chris Woodward has indicated he’s open to going that route if that’s the best way to utilize the Rangers talent.
The group of internal options I mentioned above are all guys who, while probably not being well suited to immediately step into a rotation, could potentially go through the lineup once and be very effective. And if you are going that route, you likely want to follow up a righty starter/opener with a lefty tag-team partner, and vice versa. The Rangers have more lefty guys who could fill that role than righthanders, so we could perhaps see Gaviglio getting an opportunity to carve out a roster spot as, say, Taylor Hearn’s piggy back partner in such games.