The Cardinals announced Monday that they’ve requested unconditional release waivers on right-hander Luke Gregerson. He’ll become a free agent once he (presumably) clears waivers in 48 hours. Gregerson was previously designated for assignment Friday evening.
Gregerson, 35, signed a two-year, $11MM contract with the Cardinals in a 2017-18 offseason during which the bullpen was a major focus. Gregerson joined Greg Holland and Dominic Leone as fresh faces brought into the St. Louis relief corps that winter, but none of the three proved to be a viable contributor for the Cards.
Gregerson is being paid $5MM in 2019 and is still owed about $3.575MM of that sum plus a $1MM buyout on an option for the 2020 season. Given that salary and his struggles since signing in St. Louis, he’ll almost certainly go unclaimed and then become a free agent who can sign with any club for the prorated league minimum through season’s end. The Cardinals would then see that sum subtracted from their own obligation to Gregerson through season’s end.
A hamstring strain and a shoulder impingement limited Gregerson to just 12 2/3 innings in 2018, and those shoulder troubles lingered into the 2019 campaign. He missed the first month-plus of the season due to that shoulder, and the effects may well have impacted him upon his return. While he’s never been a hard thrower, Gregerson found success with the Padres and Astros with a fastball that averaged around 89.5 mph; however, his heater averaged just 87.8 mph in 2018 and 86.7 mph in this season’s even more limited sample.
Gregerson was designated for assignment just 13 days after being activated from the injured list. In all, Gregerson will throw only 18 1/3 innings at the MLB level as a Cardinal. In that time, he posted a 7.36 ERA with a 14-to-7 K/BB ratio and 25 hits allowed (including a pair of homers). That said, he has a solid track record as a setup man and occasional closer. In 599 career innings prior to signing with the Cardinals, Gregerson owned a 3.02 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 and a 51 percent ground-ball rate.