The Orioles announced Thursday that right-hander Thomas Eshelman has cleared waivers and rejected an outright assignment in favor of free agency. He was designated for assignment when the O’s set their roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft and is now able to sign with any club.
Eshelman, 26, posted a solid 3.89 ERA in 34 2/3 innings with the Orioles in 2020, but his numbers beyond that mark are far less encouraging. The 2015 second-rounder managed only 16 strikeouts against nine walks in that time, and he was tagged for seven home runs in that time as well. Eshelman has tallied 70 2/3 innings in the Majors to this point in his still-young career but has punched out just 38 hitters while walking 20. Unlike many low-strikeout hurlers, he’s not at all a ground-ball pitcher, inducing grounders at a 33.6 percent clip against a 41.3 percent fly-ball rate.
In parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level, Eshelman carries a 4.12 ERA with averages of 6.5 strikeouts and just 1.9 walks per nine innings pitched, and he has a pair of minor league options still remaining. That track record and flexibility makes him a sensible depth pickup for a team in need of pitching depth, though he’ll very likely be looking at a minor league pact in free agency.