The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly signed RHP Hunter Strickland to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. The team has not confirmed the news, with it originally be sighted by Danny Russell on the team’s official transaction page, and then reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Strickland pitched just a total of 3 1⁄3 innings last year as a member of the New York Mets. However, most of Strickland’s time in the big leagues has come with the San Francisco Giants, with whom he pitched with from 2014 through 2018. During that time with the Giants, Strickland posted a 2.91 ERA / 3.40 FIP over 226 innings pitched, all in relief appearances.
The wheels fell off for Strickland following his tenure with San Francisco with a couple of short, unimpressive stints with the Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners in 2019. This was followed by his brief time as a member of the New York Mets during the pandemic shortened season in 2020.
Strickland has a two pitch combo of a fastball and slider which he uses to nearly a 50-50 split. The fastball registers in the mid-90’s while his slider is in the low to mid 80’s.
Strickland can be bit of a wildcard, evidenced by his very notable grudge held against Bryce Harper when he was still a member of the Giants and Harper was with the Washington Nationals. After Harper hit a homerun off Strickland during the 2014 postseason, Strickland waited three years then drilled Harper with a pitch during a 2017 regular season game, leading to an field fracas that ultimately ended the career of Giants outfielder, Michael Morse; Strickland received a six game suspension for the incident.
Spring Training is just over a week away and Strickland will among the many candidates vying for one of the few available spots in the Rays bullpen.