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Brewers finalize Joe Ross signing, ink Rob Zastryzny to minor-league deal

Ross will compete for a rotation spot, and Zastryzny gets an invitation to big-league camp

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Brewers have finalized their one-year contract with right-hander Joe Ross, Adam McCalvy reported on Tuesday. McCalvy later added that the club has signed left-hander Rob Zastryzny to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league spring training.

The news of Ross’ $1.75 million agreement first broke last week, and the deal is now official after he passed his physical.

McCalvy reports that the Brewers view Ross as a starting pitcher. He joins Colin Rea, Robert Gasser, and Aaron Ashby as candidates for innings at the back end of Milwaukee’s rotation. Ross could shift to a relief role if beaten for a rotation spot.

Zastryzny is a journeyman who has bounced on and off various rosters in recent years. The southpaw owns a career 4.70 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 59 13 MLB innings and a 4.60 ERA in over 600 minor-league frames.

Zastryzny spent 2023 in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, splitting time between the big leagues and Triple-A.

The veteran’s arsenal has evolved over the past couple of seasons. He was previously a soft-tosser who relied heavily on his fastball. Zastryzny has added nearly four ticks to his heater since 2018 and averaged a career-best 93 mph in 2023. He has also dropped his curveball, added a cutter that induced plenty of ground balls and fashioned his slider into a sweeper by adding several inches of lateral movement.

Those changes, along with improved control, have made a difference in the upper minors. Zastryzny has posted a 3.64 ERA and 3.53 FIP since the start of the 2022 season, and his strikeout rate in that span has jumped to 27.3%.

Zastryzny will get an opportunity to make an impression in spring training, but given the Brewers’ crowded bullpen and his lack of minor-league options, he seems like a long shot to break camp with the team. Still, he could serve as solid left-handed relief depth in Triple-A.