The Cleveland Indians have reportedly signed left-handed relief pitcher Joe Thatcher, according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo. This is the third free agent signing by the Tribe in two days, after nabbing outfielder Rajai Davis and first baseman Mike Napoli in one-year deals Wednesday afternoon.
UPDATE [12/17 10:57 a.m. EST]: Paul Hoynes is reporting the Thatcher deal is a minor league contract. I would have been happy even with a Major League deal for Thatcher, so this is pretty great news. He will also be receiving a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
Thatcher, 34, is a soft-tossing lefty specialist who essentially takes over the role left vacant when the Indians opted not to enter arbitration with LHP Nick Hagadone, who still remains a free agent.
Thatcher appeared in 43 games for the Astros last season, carrying a 3.00 FIP and 26.0 percent strikeout rate over 22.0 innings of work. Over his career, Thatcher is much more effective against left-handed opponents than right-handed. He sports a career 23.3 percent K-BB rate against southpaws, compared to 8.6 percent K-BB rate against lefties.
Bullpen has been an area of need for the Tribe this offseason, but to this point, they have not a done much to address it. They acquired Kirby Yates in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, but that is pretty much it. Thatcher should slot in nicely alongside the other lefties in the Indians bullpen, Kyle Crockett and Giovanni Soto.