AUG. 30: Jennings has now cleared release waivers and is officially a free agent, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
AUG. 27: Tampa Bay has officially released Jennings, according to Bill Chastain of MLB.com.
AUG. 26: The Rays will release veteran outfielder Desmond Jennings tomorrow, the club has announced. He had been on the 15-day DL with a knee injury.
This isn’t the first time that Jennings has succumbed to leg problems. The 29-year-old was shelved earlier this year with a hamstring strain and underwent surgery last year on his left knee.
Injuries have coincided with a rather notable decline in performance of late, and Jennings no longer profiles as the quality everyday player he once was. Between 2011 and 2014, he contributed nearly 2,000 plate appearances of .249/.327/.402 hitting while swatting 47 home runs and stealing 86 bases. In the two seasons since, Jennings owns a .222/.295/.347 batting line with eight long balls and seven swiped bags in only 333 turns at the plate.
Jennings was earning $3.3MM in his second season of arbitration eligibility. Even if he catches on with another organization and makes it back to the majors this year, Tampa Bay will remain on the hook for the remainder of that less a pro-rated portion of the league minimum salary. Jennings profiled as a likely non-tender candidate at year end, but will instead hit the open market a bit early.
While there’s obviously plenty of reason for pessimism with regards to Jennings’s future in the game, there are still some positives. Defensive Runs Saved rates him as a quality defender, though that assessment wasn’t shared by UZR. And Jennings is still relatively youthful, as he won’t turn 30 until October. Clubs looking for a bounceback candidate or fourth outfielder will surely consider him this winter, at least assuming he is able to show that he’s back to full health.