The Indians have released veteran reliever Joba Chamberlain, according to the team’s official transactions page. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter link) that Chamberlain elected to become a free agent rather than an accept an outright assignment to the minors. Cleveland designated Chamberlain for assignment earlier this week.
Chamberlain posted a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings out of the Tribe’s bullpen this season, though ERA predictors (3.83 FIP, 4.27 xFIP, 4.35 SIERA) weren’t as impressed with the right-hander’s work. Chamberlain benefited from a .216 BABIP and he had some control issues, as evidenced by a 4.95 BB/9. Still, the 30-year-old posted an 8.10 K/9 and 52.9% grounder rate, and was still averaging 93.4 mph on his fastball.
It was exactly one year ago that Chamberlain was released by the Tigers, and he has since pitched for the Blue Jays (in the minors), Royals and Indians in that timeframe. Despite his rather up-and-down track record as a reliever, Chamberlain’s 2016 numbers and past status as one of the game’s top prospects make him a pretty good bet to catch on with another team in need of bullpen help. Chamberlain guaranteed himself a $1MM salary for 2016 (plus $2MM in incentives) by making Cleveland’s roster, so the Tribe will be on the hook for the approximately $460K still owed, while another team can sign Chamberlain for just a prorated minimum salary.