The Indians’ bullpen has been a source of recent extensive conversations, due in large part to the club’s losses of free agents Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith during the Winter Meetings and the knowledge that several other key pitchers in the relief corps are set to hit the open market after next season.
With the need to replace some of the innings exiting the roster, the Cleveland front office has focused quite a few of its offseason signings on bringing in some extra arms to spring camp on minor league deals. On Monday, the Indians added to that depth when they announced the signing of right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla to a minor league contract.
Bonilla, 27, hails from the Dominican Republic and has seen limited action on the Major League stage. The Indians become the sixth organization that he has been a part of since entering the pro game as an amateur free agent in 2008, when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. He will report to spring training with the club as a non-roster invitee.
He spent last season with the Cincinnati Reds, making his first appearances at the MLB level since 2014. He posted a 1-3 record with an 8.10 ERA in 36 2/3 innings of work in ten games. He split time between the rotation and bullpen, making four starts and throwing one complete game.
After signing with Philadelphia late in 2008, Bonilla spent four years in the Phillies farm system before he was traded to the Texas Rangers in the Michael Young trade in December of 2012. He made his Major League debut with the Rangers in 2014, going 3-0 in five games (three starts) with a 3.05 ERA.
He was claimed off of waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2015 season and spent a year in their farm system before signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates last winter, but he lasted just two and a half months with the club before the Reds claimed him on waivers in February of this year.
At the big league level, he is 3-3 in seven starts with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP and 1-0 in eight relief appearances with an 8.24 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP.
He has worked as both a reliever and a starter throughout his minor league career, dating back to 2009. In 219 career games (64 starts), he is 35-31 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. He lost all of the 2015 season after undergoing right elbow surgery.
Bonilla has spent this offseason pitching for Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Winter League, making eleven appearances (three starts) with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. His last three outings there have been in successful but short starting roles, allowing three runs in 13 innings of work.
He joins a growing list of pitchers with limited success in the Show added to the Indians’ depth chart for spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, in February. The club signed pitchers Jeff Beliveau and Leonel Campos in November and added Sean Marshall and Neil Ramirez earlier this month. A deal with right-hander Alexi Ogando has not formally been announced, due to a pending physical.