Right-hander Dillon Gee has utilized the opt-out provision in his minor league deal with the Rangers, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Texas will have 48 hours to add Gee to its 40-man roster. If the Rangers decide against adding Gee to the roster, he’ll become a free agent that can sign with any club.
Gee, 30, reeled off six shutout innings against his former Royals teammates today, yielding just two hits and racking up nine strikeouts to put an exclamation point on a solid Spring Training with the Rangers. In 19 2/3 innings during Major League camp, Gee logged a 3.20 ERA with a stellar 18-to-3 K/BB ratio. While he’s been tagged for 25 hits, only one of those has left the yard for a home run.
The Rangers signed Gee to a minor league deal this offseason as the right-hander sought to work his way back from surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, which he underwent last October. Gee spent the 2016 season with the Royals — his first professional season pitching anywhere other than the Mets organization — and logged a 4.68 ERA in 125 innings split between the rotation and the bullpen. The 2015-16 seasons were something of a struggle for Gee, but prior to that he’d logged a 3.91 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 in 639 1/3 innings for the Mets.
The Rangers could utilize Gee either as a long man in the bullpen or as a starter early in the season while Andrew Cashner rehabs from a bout with biceps tendinitis. With the Rangers seemingly relying on a combination of Cashner and right-hander Tyson Ross (who also had thoracic outlet surgery this offseason, but later than Gee) to contribute regularly in the rotation down the stretch, retaining Gee as a depth option is undoubtedly a tempting option for Texas. The team does have alternatives, including A.J. Griffin, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez and Mike Hauschild, but Gee comes with more experience and a greater track record of MLB success than those options.
Of course, the Rangers also have to weigh the financial component of the situation. Gee’s minor league deal with Texas reportedly comes with a $2MM base salary. If he cracks the Opening Day roster, that figure will become guaranteed regardless of whether he sticks on the roster for the entire season. While it’s hardly a prohibitive sum for a big league team, the Rangers may not be keen on paying Gee at that rate if they don’t feel there’s a long-term spot for him on the roster.