Ken Giles Elects Free Agency


7:35 pm: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports that Giles asked for release from the Mariners, who granted his request. That should allay any concerns that the club simply gave up on him to make his contribution. Nicholson-Smith also says several teams are showing interest in Giles, including the Blue Jays, the team he was with from mid-2018 to late 2020.

6:05 pm: The Mariners announced that reliever Ken Giles has rejected an outright assignment and made a free choice. Giles was designated for assignment on Friday and this announcement appears to indicate that he has passed unclaimed waivers. As a veteran of more than five years of MLB service, Giles has the right to refuse a direct assignment without losing any salary.

Giles, now 31, underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2020. The Mariners later signed him to a two-year deal knowing he would miss the entire 2021 campaign, but were hoping for a payout in 2022. Giles made $1.5 million last year and earns $5MM this season. (There was also a club option for 2023, which now appears to be a moot point.) Sadly, things haven’t gone according to that long-term plan, with Giles missing much of this season due to other injuries. While it was hoped he would be ready for opening day, a finger injury prevented him from making his Mariner-debut during Spring Training until June 21. After five reduced-speed appearances, a shoulder problem sent him back to the IL once again. He was rehabilitating from that problem when the M’s assigned him to an assignment.

Giles now heads back to the open market and tries to find his next opportunity. Prior to his current streak of injuries, he was one of the better relievers in all of baseball. He was last long-term healthy with the Blue Jays in 2019, throwing 53 innings with a 1.87 ERA, 39.9% strikeout rate, 8.2% walk rate and 39.3% groundball rate.

While dreams of that kind of performance are sure to leave some people salivating, there are reasons to be bearish about Giles for the rest of the season. For starters, the Mariners didn’t need his roster spot at the time of his DFA, perhaps suggesting they didn’t expect his shoulder issues to go away between now and the end of the year. Giles could also have been caught on waivers by any of the 29 other teams, with the claiming club only raking in the rest of his salary this year, which would have been about $1.4 million. That claiming team could also have kept him through 2023 via the club option on his contract, which would have netted Giles $9.5 million next year and a buyout of just $500,000. The fact that every team has missed that opportunity suggests at least some degree of market pessimism.

However, now that he is free, any team can sign him and pay him the pro-league minimum for any time spent on the roster, deducting that amount from what Seattle pays. That makes him an interesting joker in the baseball world until he signs. On the one hand, he is now three years away from his last signs of effectiveness and has been dealing with various ailments ever since. But then again, now that the trading deadline has passed, teams desiring bullpen upgrades have very limited options to do so. Given Giles’ past success and the no-risk acquisition cost, teams might find him worth a dice roll.

The Mariners also announced that catcher Luis Torrens vacated waivers and was straight to Triple-A Tacoma. His situation is slightly different from Giles’s as he has just over three years of MLB service. Players between the ages of three and five can decline a direct assignment and make a free choice, although they must surrender their remaining salary. Torrens qualified for arbitration last season as a Super Two player and will earn a salary of $1.2 million this year. With about $340K left to pay this year, no team thought he was worth a claim. While the Mariners did not announce whether he would accept the assignment, it seems reasonable to assume that he did, given the club’s rejection of Giles and the money Torrens would leave on the table by walking away. Torrens isn’t very highly regarded for his defense, but put in a strong offense last year with 15 home runs and .243/.299/.431, wRC+ of 101. ball and producing a batting line of .214/.262/. 252, wRC+ of 52.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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