Right-hander Nate Jones, who was designated for assignment by the Dodgers last week, has elected free agency rather than accept an outright assignment, as first reflected on the Triple-A transactions log at MLB.com.
Jones, 35, has spent time with the Braves and the Dodgers this season but has yet to recapture the form that made him one of the game’s better setup men at his peak. He pitched to a 3.48 ERA in Atlanta but also yielded an untenable 10 walks in 10 1/3 innings before being cut loose. In L.A., Jones cleaned up the walks but surrendered four homers in 8 2/3 frames. Overall, he’s pitched to a 5.69 ERA with 14 punchouts against 12 walks in 19 innings this year.
From 2012-19, Jones logged a tidy 3.12 ERA with a hearty 26.5 percent strikeout rate against a 9.2 percent walk rate. That 26.5 percent strikeout clip is above average even by today’s standards, but Jones struck out nearly 30 percent of his opponents from 2013-17 at a time when the overall league strikeout rate was much lower than it is at present. Health issues plagued him throughout his time with the White Sox, but when he was healthy enough to take the mound, Jones was generally a high-end reliever.
Jones’ sinker still has plenty of life, averaging 95.6 mph according to Statcast, and his slider generated a 39.6 percent whiff rate. That’s down a bit from his peak, when the sinker sat around 98 mph and the slider induced whiffs at better than a 50 percent clip, but Jones is still throwing hard and still capable of generating swings and misses at a healthy clip. Between that and his generally strong track record, there should be interest from other clubs on a minor league pact.