The 2018-2019 offseason is now officially underway, and the attention has moved towards MLB free agency but what often gets overlooked is the small moves the teams make in minor league free agency where they can find a diamond in a rough that could contribute in some form to the team in 2019.
This series we take a look at potential minor league free agents that could be a good fit for the Yankees, providing veteran leadership in the upper levels and serving as solid depth pieces for the big league club.
Ryan Merritt – Left-Handed Pitcher
Ryan Merritt is another left-handed starting pitcher that could provide quality depth on a minor league deal for the Yankees. He spent the majority of his 2018 season with the Columbus Clippers of the International League where he was 3-3 with a 3.79 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings pitched.
In addition to his time in Triple-A, he had five games in the big leagues with the Cleveland Indians where he was 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 20 2/3 innings pitched.
Merritt, 26, was initially drafted by the Indians in the 2011 Draft out of McLennan Junior College and put together a pretty good minor league career in eight seasons. In 155 games, 147 starts, he has 59-39 record with a 3.37 ERA and 612 strikeouts in 878 2/3 innings pitched.
He is best known for the start he had in game five of the 2016 American League Championship Series where he pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing just two hits.
However, a slight velocity dip for the lefty had caused some concerns for the Indians who ultimately designated him for assignment in July. He cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A. He posted much better numbers after being designated for assignment, going 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings in nine games, seven starts.