Red Sox designate Barnes for assignment

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The Red Sox announced that they have designated right-hander Matt Barnes for assignment. His roster spot will go to outfielder Adam Duvall, whose signing is now official.

Barnes, 33 in June, has spent his entire career with the Red Sox thus far. They selected him back in 2011, using the 19th overall pick to grab him. 

He transitioned from the rotation to the bullpen while in the minors and eventually established himself as a solid reliever in the Boston bullpen. 

From 2016-20, he made 288 appearances with a 3.88 ERA. His 11.6% walk rate was certainly on the high side but he also struck out 31.9% of opponents and got grounders at a 48.1% clip.

In the first half of 2021, he seemed to take his game to a new level. Through July 10, he had already tossed 37 innings on the year with a 2.68 ERA, striking out an incredible 44.6% of opponents while walking just 7.2%. 

He also took over as the club’s closer, racking up 19 saves by that point in the season already, despite only having 15 in his career prior to that season.

He was slated to hit the open market at the end of that year but the Sox decided they wanted to lock him up and agreed to a two-year, $18.75M extension with a club option for 2024.

Unfortunately, things have gone downhill for Barnes since the ink dried on that deal. He posted a 6.11 ERA in the rest of the 2021 campaign and was initially left off the club’s postseason roster, though he later re-joined the club as an injury replacement. 

In 2022, he struggled badly out of the gate, posting a 7.94 ERA through the end of May, when he landed on the injured list due to inflammation in his throwing shoulder. 

He came back in August and posted a 1.59 ERA from then out, but that still left his season-long ERA at 4.31. 

Despite that strong finish, he has evidently been pushed off the roster in Boston, a remarkable turnaround for a guy who looked like one of the best relievers in baseball a year and a half ago.

The Sox will now have a week to trade Barnes or pass him through waivers. He will be making a $7.5M salary this year and has a $2.25M buyout on the $8M club option for next year. 

Unless the Sox can find a trade partner, they will be on the hook for the $9.75M still owed to Barnes. If he were to clear waivers, he has more than five years of MLB service time, meaning he can reject an outright assignment and become a free agent while retaining all of that money. 

Should he become a free agent and sign elsewhere, another club would only have to pay him the protated league minimum for any time spent on the roster, with that amount being subtracted from what the Sox pay.

iTalk Studios reported that Barnes would be designated for assignment before the official announcement.

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