Hale retired the only batter he faced in the 10th inning to secure his second save of the season in Thursday's 8-4 win over the Rays. Since regular closer Aroldis Chapman blew a save chance in the ninth inning and the Yankees' top three setup men (Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton) were used earlier in the contest, manager Aaron Boone had few dependable arms left to turn to when the game went to extras. Luis Cessa was summoned to protect a five-run lead in the bottom of the 10th, but he allowed four of the six hitters he faced to reach base before Hale got the call from the bullpen. Facing Yandy Diaz with the bases loaded, Hale induced an inning-ending groundout to help the Yankees take the first game of the series. Despite getting the job done Thursday, Hale is expected to see most of his usage in lower-leverage spots moving forward.
Hale's contract was selected from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to Tuesday's game in Baltimore. He logged a 3.89 FIP, 1.34 WHIP and 29:7 K:BB over 30.2 innings (six starts) at Triple-A. It seems likely that Hale will serve as a mop-up man out of the bullpen in the short term, although he could also serve as an insurance policy in case Masahiro Tanaka (shin) is unexpectedly unable to make his start Thursday.
Hale was reassigned to minor-league spring training Saturday. Hale's 14 strikeouts in 11.2 spring innings weren't enough to earn him a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. The 31-year-old has a mediocre 4.49 ERA in 192.1 career major-league innings.
Hale agreed to a minor-league contract with the Yankees on Monday, Max Wildstein of Gotham Sports Network reports. Hale had two separate stints in the majors with New York in 2018 before he was cut loose in July to pursue an opportunity in the Korea Baseball Organization. Rather than heading back overseas, Hale will look to again secure a spot in the Yankees' Opening Day bullpen as a long reliever. Hale could be open to reporting to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if he fails to break camp with the big club.
Hale is signing with the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO, Sung Min Kim of MLB.com. Just a week after being designated for assignment and electing free agency, Hale will head overseas to continue his professional career. The 30-year-old notched a 4.49 ERA over five major league seasons.