Detroit Tigers sign Jacob Barnes to minor league deal adding bullpen depth

(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)
(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Tigers decided to take a flier on reliever Jacob Barnes to add some bullpen depth to the organization. He was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation being extended to attend big league Spring Training when the time comes in a few months.

While the Detroit Tigers may not have immediate expectations for Barnes to take over a significant role in the team’s bullpen, there are certainly some things to look at when it comes to his makeup as a player.

He’s bounced around and has been in the big leagues every year since the 2016 season. A product of Florida Gulf Coast University, he came into the league with the Milwaukee Brewers and has since bounced around.

In 2021, Barnes started the season with the New York Mets and wound up finishing things off with the Toronto Blue Jays. The intrigue with Barnes is likely his fastball/cutter combination and ability to spin the ball.

Detroit Tigers sign Jacob Barnes to minor league deal, adding bullpen depth.

In total, this past summer, Barnes would appear in 29 big league games where he accumulated 28.2 innings pitched. He would pitch to a 6.28 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. However, he did log 33 punchouts over his 28.2 innings of work.

Barnes works a three-pitch mix, a 4-seam fastball, a cutter, and a changeup. His fastball sits in the mid-90s but can reach up into the upper-90s at times. He’s pitched to an average 2,394 RPM spin rate on his fastball, which is well above average, according to Baseball Savant.

It seems that Barnes is going to be someone who lives with the fastball for location and then changes eye level with the cutter and looks for swings and misses at the bottom of the zone. He’s been able to get the changeup moving to his arm side, and it is something he could continue to work on.

By no means is adding Barnes going to drastically change the landscape of this organization’s bullpen for the 2022 season. However, a further look into Barnes offers a better understanding of why the team may have taken the chance on the 31-year old relief arm.

It truly was more of a depth move, but it seems like they added Barnes in as an exploratory project to see if he could wind up panning out as an asset. Having a stable of relief arms to call upon when injuries occur, or a player goes into a slump and may need to be sent down is only helpful.

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Who knows, Barnes may just make the team out of camp with a strong showing. This bullpen is not overly stocked, so Barnes has a shot to have a strong Spring Training and make the club out of camp.