8:44am: Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill announced to reporters that Straily has been released by the organization (Twitter link via Joe Frisaro of MLB.com). Mish tweets that Straily is going on release waivers today, meaning he’ll become a free agent if he clears on Wednesday at 1pm ET. Assuming that happens, he’ll receive the aforementioned 45 days’ termination pay and can can sign with any club for any amount of money (on top of that termination pay from Miami).
7:52am: In a fairly surprising move, the Marlins have designated right-hander Dan Straily for assignment, according to Craig Mish of SiriusXM (all Twitter links). The Marlins will now have a week to trade him or release him. Left-hander Caleb Smith has made the Marlins’ Opening Day rotation in what was expected to be Straily’s spot, Mish adds.
Straily, 30, was acquired from the Reds in a January 2017 trade that cost the Marlins right-hander Luis Castillo (along with the since-reacquired righty Austin Brice and minor league outfielder Zeek White). Straily made 33 starts for Miami in his first year with the club and tallied another 23 starts for the Fish in a 2018 season that was slowed a bit by a forearm strain early in the year. In all, he gave the Marlins 304 innings of 4.20 ERA ball with averages of 8.0 strikeouts, 3.3 walks and 1.5 homers allowed per nine innings pitched.
On the heels of that output, Miami and Straily agreed to a $5MM salary earlier this winter, avoiding arbitration in the process. Today’s DFA will save the Marlins about $3.8MM of that $5MM sum, as even if Straily is released, the organization would only owe him 45 days’ termination pay (roughly $1.2MM). Ultimately, those cost savings were surely at the heart of the move. There’s little doubt that Straily is a better option for the Miami pitching staff than fellow veteran Wei-Yin Chen, but Miami will retain Chen and his fully guaranteed $20MM salary and instead part ways with a veteran arm whose salary was only partially guaranteed.
Miami has reportedly been exploring trades for Straily all offseason, including prior to tendering him at that $5MM rate, but without any success. As such, it may be difficult for them to find a partner in the coming days, though perhaps a club with injury issues in its rotation will have some interest — if not via trade then via straight waiver claim. Straily did rank in the 70th percentile of MLB pitchers in terms of fastball spin and in the 80th percentile in terms of curveball spin, so he could hold particular appeal to clubs that emphasize spin rate. If he goes unclaimed, Straily will become a free agent who is eligible to sign with any club for any amount of money while still pocketing the $1.2MM owed to him by Miami.
As for the Marlins, they’ll now trot out a younger rotation consisting of Jose Urena, Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara and Smith, with Chen lined up as the long man in the bullpen. Elieser Hernandez, Jeff Brigham and Jordan Yamamoto are all on the 40-man roster as depth options.
Developmentally speaking, one can hardly fault the rebuilding Marlins for wanting to give as many of their growing stable of arms an opportunity as possible, though the fact that doing so now means paying a reasonably useful Major League arm to pitch somewhere else is hardly ideal. The truly questionable element of the whole equation will be the decision to tender Straily in the first place a youth movement was always the preferred route for the rotation. Presumably, though, when that decision was due in early December, Miami still had confidence in its ability to find a trade partner.