4:21PM: Hardy has indeed officially elected to become a free agent, as per a team announcement.
1:50PM: The Tigers have placed left-hander Blaine Hardy on outright waivers, as per MLB.com’s Jason Beck (Twitter link). The move all but officially ends Hardy’s tenure in the Motor City, as he will become a free agent if he goes unclaimed on the waiver wire. On his personal Twitter feed, Hardy bid his farewells to the Tigers organization, fans, and the city of Detroit after seven seasons in the fold.
Hardy posted a 4.47 ERA, 2.23 K/BB rate, 48.5% grounder rate and 5.9 K/9 over 44 1/3 relief innings in 2019, just about all the while battling left flexor tendinitis. The elbow issues resulted in a two-week injured list stint early in the season, and then Hardy’s year came to a premature end after he received a platelet-rich plasma injection in mid-August.
The abbreviated campaign was expected to result in a non-tender for Hardy, who was projected to earn $1.8MM via the arbitration process this winter. The early release will give the 32-year-old a bit of an early jump on the rest of the market as he looks for a new contract. While Hardy’s tweet sounded like a pretty definitive end to his time in Detroit, a return (at a lower price) probably shouldn’t be entirely ruled out, given how the rebuilding Tigers will be looking for low-cost pitching answers in both the rotation and bullpen.
Hardy has a 3.73 ERA, 2.25 K/BB rate, and 7.1 K/9 over 289 2/3 career innings, all in a Tigers uniform. He has worked as a reliever in all but 13 of his 233 career games, though all of those starts came in 2018, perhaps making him more attractive to a new team looking to add a swingman or a “featured pitcher” (behind an opener) to its 2020 pitching mix.