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A’s sign reliever Dany Jimenez to minor league contract

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Former Rule 5 pick gets another try in the organization

2021 Oakland Athletics Photo Day Photo by Robert Beck/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The MLB offseason has barely started, but the Oakland A’s already made their first player addition last week.

The A’s signed reliever Dany Jimenez to a minor league contract, reported insider Martin Gallegos on Thursday.

This is the second time Jimenez has joined the organization. Last winter the A’s selected him as a Rule 5 draft pick, taking him from the Toronto Blue Jays, but he was returned to the Jays midway through spring training.

While he was here during the spring, the right-hander pitched three Cactus League games for Oakland, tossing three innings with three strikeouts, two walks, and a homer. After heading back to Toronto’s system, he spent the summer in Triple-A and posted a mammoth strikeout rate.

  • Jimenez, 2021 AAA: 2.22 ERA, 44⅔ ip, 73 Ks, 25 BB, 5 HR, 29 hits, 3.23 FIP

He struck out 39% of his batters, and racked up 14.7 Ks per nine innings. Both of those rates led all Triple-A East pitchers who worked at least 40 innings. Lower the bar to 30 innings and he ranked fourth in K% and second in K/9, in a league that features 20 teams.

That was Jimenez’s first experience in Triple-A, as his progress up the ladder was stalled when the minors were canceled in 2020. However, he has made his MLB debut — the Giants took him as a Rule 5 pick entering 2020 and tried him out in two games before returning him to the Blue Jays.

In other words, he was taken from Toronto as a Rule 5 pick each of the last two years, first by the Giants entering 2020 and then by the A’s entering 2021, but he was returned both times. Then he had a monster performance in Triple-A this year, so the A’s have picked him up again, as a free agent this time with no restrictions. He turns 28 next month.

As for his stuff, Jimenez is touted for his high velocity, with a fastball that has reached 98 mph in the past. The A’s also spoke highly of his slider when they drafted him last winter. Click here for our scouting report from last December.

Whatever the team’s plans might be for the offseason, whether it’s to rebuild or compete, they’re going to need to restock their bullpen. Half of last year’s group is gone to free agency, including most of the late-inning crew in Andrew Chafin, Jake Diekman, Yusmeiro Petit, and Sergio Romo, not to mention Trevor Rosenthal.

Now they’ve added their first new lotto ticket. Jimenez isn’t a big established name, but he’s an even better prospect than he was a year ago, and he’s earned another look.