SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Rangers have locked up their most dominant pitcher from a year ago, signing right-handed reliever Jose LeClerc to a four-year contract extension through 2022 with club options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
"I feel happy,” said Leclerc, "and I just I don’t know how I can say how excited I am."
He was 2018 Rangers Pitcher of the Year after posting a 2-3 record with 12 saves and a 1.56 ERA (10 ER/57.2 IP) over 59 appearances out of the bullpen last season, setting career highs in most categories in his third Major League campaign. He held opponents to the lowest batting average (.126) of any MLB reliever last season.
Rangers President John Daniels says it’s a “big deal,” and they’re thrilled to commit to a player with, "elite character, elite stuff, elite performance, [and] work ethic."
"Overall for us to have a home-grown pitcher that so many of our people have worked with over the years and to see his growth, said Daniels, "hopefully this is the first of many young pitchers that are sitting up here that have come through our system that we’re able to commit to and are big parts of our core."
The 25-year old struck out 38.1% (85 of 223) of all batters faced last season and his 12 saves from August 4th through the end of the season ranked tied for 3rd in both the American League and all of Major League Baseball.
Daniels says Leclerc sets the perfect example for young pitchers coming up through in the Rangers' organization.
“For them to look at Jose and what he’s accomplished and what he’s going to accomplish over the rest of his career, that’s big," said Daniels. "He wants to lead, not necessarily in a rah-rah way but he’s the hardest working guy we’ve got and he really sets the example."
LeClerc has spent his entire career in the Texas organization since signing at the age of 16 out of his native Dominican Republic.