The Angels announced Tuesday that they’ve released left-handed reliever Dan Jennings. He’d been in camp on a minor league pact in hopes of earning a roster spot but will instead head back out onto the open market. The Halos also optioned righty Jaime Barria to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Jennings, 31, had a rough spring but has a lengthy track record as a quality left-handed bullpen option. He spent the 2018 season with the Brewers and worked to a 3.22 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 23 walks through 64 1/3 innings of work, holding opposing left-handed batters to a .226/.266/.304 batting line along the way.
It’s at least something of a surprise that Jennings has had difficulty latching onto a big league roster spot given the success he’s had; in his seven-year career, he’s never turned in an ERA of 4.00 or higher. He’s pitched to a combined 2.96 ERA with a 272-to-150 K/BB ratio through 344 1/3 innings in the Majors. His release is further surprising given that he was viewed as a candidate to open the season as the only lefty option in the Angels’ bullpen. The Halos don’t have a lefty reliever on the 40-man roster, nor do they have any experienced non-roster invitees still in camp, so perhaps there’s a move for a lefty still on the horizon.
As for Barria, he’d been in line to round out the Halos’ rotation behind Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Tyler Skaggs and Felix Pena. Instead, it seems that role will now go to newly acquired right-hander Chris Stratton, whom the Angels picked up in a Tuesday-morning trade with the Giants. Barria, 22, made his big league debut last season and ultimately tallied 129 1/3 innings of 3.41 ERA ball with averages of 6.8 strikeouts, 3.3 walks and 1.2 home runs per nine innings pitched. Rather than look to continue that success, he’ll get some early work in Salt Lake.
Pena could also find himself bound for Triple-A once Andrew Heaney is able to come off the disabled list, although given the barrage of injuries that has beset the Angels’ pitching staff in recent seasons, it seems a fair bet that each of the aforementioned names will make some starts at the MLB level in 2019.