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Milwaukee Brewers sign José Ureña to minor-league deal, select him to active roster

Former Marlin and Tiger will join big-league camp on Wednesday.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

On Tuesday afternoon, the Brewers announced through their player development Twitter account that they have signed pitcher José Ureña to a minor-league contract.

Despite it being announced as a minor-league deal, it is effectively a workaround major-league contract. The Brewers immediately selected Ureña to their 40-man roster on Wednesday morning.

The 30-year-old spent the first six years of his career with the Miami Marlins before latching on with the Detroit Tigers last season. In 26 games with the Tigers, he posted a 5.81 ERA and 5.02 FIP in 100 innings. Ureña owns a lifetime 4.77 ERA and nearly identical 4.78 FIP in just shy of 700 MLB innings.

Ureña has primarily been a starter for most of his career, starting 116 of 168 games pitched. He started his first 18 games with Detroit, but he finished the year pitching in relief after missing three months with a forearm strain. The Brewers envision a similar flex role for him this season.

The veteran’s most successful run came during the 2017 and 2018 seasons with Miami. He posted a 3.90 ERA but a less auspicious 4.68 FIP. That disparity is due to Ureña’s questionable control, penchant for allowing home runs, and inability to strike out many hitters. These traits have remained consistent throughout his career.

Ureña’s primary pitch is a mid-to-upper-90s sinker. It was pretty successful during the serviceable two-year run earlier in his career, but opponents have teed off on it in recent seasons, posting a .377 wOBA against it since the start of the 2019 season. It lost a few ticks of velocity last year, dropping from 95.3 mph to 93.8 mph. However, he has added about three inches of vertical sink over the past couple of seasons.

Baseball Savant

Ureña also throws a four-seam fastball with a similar profile to his sinker but with less movement. Opponents have hit it around to the tune of a .397 wOBA for his career. His slider looks rather flat, but it has held hitters to a sub-.300 wOBA in five of seven seasons and regularly produced whiff rates north of 30%. Ureña’s arsenal is rounded out by a changeup that is more a change of speed from his fastball than anything else.

Ureña is out of options, so the fact that the Brewers are committing a roster spot to him indicates that they see something to work with. Many of the pitchers throughout the organization feature some kind of sink, cut, or run on their fastballs, and Ureña’s sinker certainly checks off that box. Perhaps they will be able to help him harness his control.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.