According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, the Brewers have signed right-handed reliever Thyago Vieira to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Another non-roster invitee for the Brewers: RHP Thyago Vieira, who has pitched in Japan since 2020, signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp. https://t.co/GJOsKSas00— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 12, 2023
The 29-year-old owns a 7.36 ERA and 5.32 FIP in 25 2⁄3 innings across three seasons with the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox. He last pitched in the major leagues in 2019, after which he embarked on a three-year stint in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Vieira settled in as a reliable high-leverage arm overseas, posting a 3.61 ERA and 26.2% strikeout rate in 92 games while collecting 19 saves.
The Brazil native drew interest last winter from multiple MLB teams, but the lockout seemingly put plans for a stateside return on hold. He re-upped with the Yomiuri Giants on a one-year deal and split the season between their big-league team and their minor-league club.
In 20 games with Yomiuri’s farm team in the Japan Eastern League, Vieira was nearly untouchable, allowing just two earned runs in 20 innings and striking out 28. He was less successful at the next level, allowing eight earned runs in 7 1⁄3 innings.
Matt Arnold has focused on adding velocity to the Brewers’ bullpen mix this offseason, and Vieira checks that box. In his last big-league work in 2019, he averaged 97.5 mph with his four-seam fastball and topped out at 102 mph. Vieira reportedly continued to touch triple-digits with his fastball in Japan. He compliments his fastball with an upper-80s slider.
Control problems and poor pitch execution have prevented Vieira from capitalizing on his electric arm, He walked 11.2% of batters he faced in the big leagues, and that rate worsened to 13.2% during his time in NPB.
Vieira is an intriguing project for a Brewers team that has had some success in finding breakout relievers on the outskirts of the market. He is out of options, meaning the Brewers cannot send him down to the minor leagues if he cracks the opening day roster.