ST. PETERSBURG — Ten years in pro baseball has taken Joey Krehbiel from his Seminole roots all around the United States and to the Dominican Republic.
And now, he has a chance to play at home.
Krehbiel (pronounced KRAY-bull) agreed to terms with the Rays on a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training, which opens next week.
“This wasn’t, like, a random thing, like we were just looking to sign with someone,” Krehbiel said. “We were trying (to sign with the Rays). I just bought a house 15 minutes from (Tropicana Field). I grew up here. All these boxes were checked. I was like, man, if I could just sign here, that would be it for me.”
Krehbiel, 28, made it to the majors in July 2018 with the Diamondbacks, pitching in two games and not giving up a run during a three-day stay. He started his pro career as a 12th-round pick of the Angels in 2011, was traded to Arizona in July 2014 and spent most of 2018-19 pitching at Triple-A.
Krehbiel became a free-agent after the 2019 season He signed a minor-league deal for 2020 with Minnesota but didn’t pitch as the minor-league season was canceled. In 371 career minor-league games, Krehbiel has a 16-25, 4.07 record with 28 saves, striking out 537 over 449 innings.
His basic repertoire is fastball, cutter and change-up, though he is also working on further developing a cutter. With no 2020 season, Krehbiel said he got an early start this offseason on working out and throwing, including an impressive bullpen session for Rays scouts.
“I feel the best as I’ve ever felt,” he said. “I probably should have worked out earlier every season. ... I feel really comfortable.”
Krehbiel, represented by Tampa-based agent Loren Pincus of Greenline Sports Management, was teammates at Seminole High with current Rays outfielder Brett Phillips, who was acquired last year from Kansas City.
They have crossed paths since, but not played on the same team except for a short stint in the Arizona Fall League. Phillips tweeted his excitement over the deal on Wednesday, with pictures of them together at different levels of play.