The Nationals have designated right-hander Kyle Barraclough for assignment, per a team announcement. His spot on the roster will go to infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, whose previously reported one-year contract has now been officially announced by the Nationals. Infielder Adrian Sanchez has been optioned to Double-A Harrisburg in an additional corresponding move.
Acquired in a rare October trade that sent international bonus allotments from Washington to Miami, Barraclough was viewed as a controllable, buy-low ’pen option at the time the Nationals picked him up. While he was fresh off a fairly disappointing 4.20 ERA in 55 2/3 innings, Barraclough joined the Nationals with a long track record of missing bats and posting quality bottom-line results to match his gaudy strikeout totals. From 2015-18, Barraclough pitched to a 3.21 earned run average with 11.5 K/9 against 5.5 BB/9 in 218 2/3 innings of work. Although his walk rate was too high, he offset some of those strike-throwing issues with a minimal 0.6 HR/9 mark.
The 2019 campaign, however, proved to be an unmitigated disaster for Barraclough. Gone was his penchant for limiting the long ball — a problem that has plagued many hurlers throughout the league, albeit not to this extent — as he served up eight dingers in just 25 2/3 innings. Barraclough’s time with the Nationals will likely come to a close with a dismal 6.66 ERA and a 30-to-12 K/BB ratio in those 25 2/3 frames.
The Nats won’t have the opportunity to trade him thanks to the newly implemented August trade restrictions, but they could potentially save a bit of cash if another organization claims Barraclough on outright waivers. While this year’s results are obviously troubling, the 29-year-old Barraclough is making $1.725MM in 2019 and is controllable through the 2021 season.
A team willing to take on his remaining $510K salary this season would only owe him a small raise in arbitration and then would have the opportunity to help the right-hander round back into form. Between that and the fact that Barraclough has two minor league option years remaining beyond the 2019 campaign, a claim seems fairly likely. Other clubs have limited access to acquiring depth, and an optionable bullpen piece with a solid pre-2019 track record will be difficult to come by between now and the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility.