Right-hander Tommy Kahnle declined an outright assignment from the Yankees and instead chose to become a free agent, the team announced.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in August, Kahnle will miss most and quite possibly all of the 2021 season, making him a logical non-tender candidate. Headed into his third trip through the arbitration process, Kahnle was projected to earn $2.7MM, or a minimal raise on his $2.65MM salary from 2020 given that he pitched a single inning this season.
In electing to become a free agent, Kahnle will now look for a change of scenery in a new organization and see if he can land a two-year commitment — as per the usual model for TJ recovery cases, Kahnle would earn a minimum salary in the first year of the contract and then a larger salary in the second year when he is expected to actually pitch. Finding such a contract in this troubled free agent market could be a challenge, though Kahnle has delivered enough results on the mound that a club might be convinced to take what should still be a relatively inexpensive plunge.
The 31-year-old righty has a 3.82 ERA, 2.61 K/BB rate, 46.6% grounder rate, and 11.2 K/9 over 227 2/3 career relief innings with the Yankees, White Sox, and Rockies. Though injuries plagued him in 2018, Kahnle has shown that he can be a bullpen workhorse when healthy, tossing 62 2/3 innings over 69 appearances in 2017 and 61 1/3 innings over 72 appearances in 2019.