Right-hander David Aardsma has opted out of his minor league contract with the Dodgers and is now a free agent, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). The veteran righty had a June 1 opt-out clause that triggered a 72-hour window for the Dodgers to place him on the 25-man roster, which expired today.
The 33-year-old Aardsma has pitched quite well for L.A.’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City, working to an excellent 2.41 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 15 saves in 18 2/3 innings. Aardsma recently explained to The Oklahoman’s Jacob Unruh that his offseason work in a strengthening program called Top Velocity helped him add a couple of ticks back to his fastball, which is now regularly sitting in the 91-93 mph range.
Aardsma enjoyed a successful run as the Mariners’ closer from 2009-10, tallying a 2.90 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 121 innings before hip surgery and Tommy John surgery put his career on hold. He made a brief return to the Majors late in 2012, throwing an inning for the Yankees, and he spent much of the 2013 campaign in the Mets’ bullpen, working to a 4.31 ERA in 39 1/3 innings.
In the 2013-14 offseaon, Aardsma signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals, and his 2014 success at Triple-A was similar, if not even greater than the success he has enjoyed thus far in 2015. However, a groin injury ended his 2014 season after 35 innings of 1.29 ERA ball with the Cardinals’ top minor league affiliate.
Aardsma is one of a handful of pitchers to opt out of his minor league deal in early June. We’ve also seen J.C. Gutierrez, Robert Coello and Kevin Correia opt out of their deals with the Giants, and lefty Dana Eveland opted out of his Red Sox contract last night. The recent influx of experienced arms on the free agent market will give teams that are searching for bullpen help a deeper pool from which to draw.
Just today, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that his club is on the lookout for right-handed relief options. The Braves, too, are said to be trying to trade for relief help, but it stands to reason that their reluctance to spend significant money could lead them to look to recent opt-outs as well.