July 3: Boxberger cleared waivers and is now a free agent, the Royals announced.
July 1: The Royals have requested release waivers on veteran reliever Brad Boxberger, per a club announcement. He had been designated for assignment recently.
It’s not surprising to see this move, as Boxberger’s $2.2MM salary never figured to hold much appeal after his messy performance to open the season. Had he shown enough of a spark to draw any trade interest, he’d likely have been held on the K.C. roster a while longer.
Boxberger worked to a 5.40 ERA in 26 2/3 frames, hardly the productivity the Royals were hoping for when they placed a value bet on the 31-year-old. He coughed up 5.7 free passes per nine, which is on the high side for his career but not totally out of character. Despite keeping an 11.3% swinging-strike rate that’s not too far off his career average, Boxberger has managed only 9.1 K/9 after retiring about a dozen per nine via strikeout over the past two seasons.
Beyond the outcomes, Boxberger has seemingly shown diminished arm speed. With his fastball velocity dropping significantly, he has tried to ramp up usage of a heretofore little-used slider.
That’s not to say that other organizations will turn up their noses. Boxberger has excelled after down stretches in the past and is still youthful. Even if the velo doesn’t return, he is a rather intriguing, low-risk bounceback candidate. Unless he’s claimed, which would rate as a surprise, the Royals will remain obligated for Boxberger’s remaining salary, less any pro-rated portion of the league minimum he earns if he makes it back to the majors.