York learned center fielders Scott Grimes and Brandon Haveman wouldn’t be back in recent weeks. In need of a speedy outfielder, they may have found one of the best free agent options available.
York signed Tyler Graham, a center fielder and leadoff-type hitter Friday. The Revs also agreed to terms with veteran pitcher Corey Thurman, bringing back the former big leaguer for a sixth season in York.
A seven-year pro out of Oregon State, the speedy, versatile outfielder made his major league debut with the Diamondbacks four months ago.
“I really never thought that he would be somebody who would be coming to us,” Revs manager Mark Mason said.
Oddly enough Graham didn’t earn a contract from a major league organization, and he agreed to terms with York rather easily. Revs manager of baseball operations Andrew Ball made a follow-call to Graham’s agent, Mason then called Graham — and the Revs had a new outfielder.
“I talked to Tyler, and I think we sewed it up in two minutes,” Mason said with a laugh.
Graham’s arrival and the re-signing of Thurman — a York resident — brought the Revs’ 2013 roster to nine players. Graham is the first outfielder signed, bringing parts of four years of experience at the Triple-A level. He also played 10 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.
Capable of playing all three outfield positions and able to hit at the top of the order, Graham offers the Revs flexibility on how to build the rest of the team and lineup. He stole a career-high 60 bases in a full season at Triple-A in 2011. His stolen base totals dropped to five last season, as he switched organizations (going from the Giants to Diamondbacks) and bounced around three different minor league affiliates.
“I’m really excited to sign him,” Mason said. “He’ll be a fan favorite and fun to watch because he only knows how to play one way — and that’s all out.”
“I want that element of speed and I’ll give him every opportunity to showcase his best talent.” Mason said about Graham’s ability to leadoff and steal bases. “He could be a real difference maker if he plays to his strengths.”
Asked about the danger of signing too many players that could be May or June signings by major league clubs looking to supplement Triple-A rosters (the Revs earlier this offseason signed former big league third baseman Andy Marte), Mason struck back.
“There’s absolutely no danger, that’s what we want,” Mason said. “I want guys to get picked up. There will be plenty of guys out there that need a job (in the middle of the season). I don’t sign guys hoping they’ll be here all year. I think I have a different vision than some, because the 24 or 25 that break camp with us I’m hoping they all get signed.”
He also brings back arguably the Revs top pitcher from the last two seasons in Thurman, 34. Thurman went 14-3 with a 3.82 ERA last season.
“The biggest thing about him is he is a warrior when it comes to competing,” Mason said.
Thurman has been a combined 27-6 during the last two seasons.
“I just know 27-6 speaks for itself … this guy has a big heart,” Mason said.