The Red Sox announced they’ve designated relievers Geoff Hartlieb and Yacksel Rios for assignment. The moves create space on the 40-man roster for Jarren Duran and Jonathan Araúz, both of whom have reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list and optioned to Triple-A Worcester.
Boston claimed Hartlieb off waivers from the Mets a few weeks ago, right as the bullpen was being hit hard by the virus spread throughout the clubhouse. Added for depth, he was immediately optioned to Worcester and didn’t wind up making an appearance with the Red Sox before losing his spot on the 40-man roster.
Hartlieb will find himself on waivers for the third time this season. The 27-year-old began the year with the Pirates, with whom he’d spent the first five years of his pro career. Pittsburgh waived Hartlieb in July, where the Mets claimed him. He’s worked nine innings of eleven-run ball between the two clubs, striking out nine but issuing eleven walks and hitting three batters. In 66 1/3 innings over parts of three MLB seasons, the right-hander owns a 7.46 ERA with a below-average 20.5% strikeout rate and an elevated 14.9% walk percentage.
In spite of those big league struggles, Hartlieb hasn’t yet made it through waivers unclaimed. He’s induced ground-balls on exactly half the balls in play in the majors, a quality rate. He also owns a far more impressive 3.06 ERA in 64 1/3 Triple-A innings, fanning 27.8% of opponents with a more manageable 10.9% walk rate. Hartlieb throws a mid-90s sinker and has gotten decent swing-and-miss numbers on his slider, and he can still be optioned through the end of the 2022 season. It’s not out of the question he lands with another club on waivers.
Rios has been a part of three organizations this year as well. The right-hander signed a minor league deal with the Rays and got off a sterling start with their top affiliate in Durham. He couldn’t crack the loaded Tampa Bay bullpen, but the Mariners acquired him in early June and almost immediately selected him to the majors. His time in Seattle was short-lived, as he was designated for assignment less than a week later and traded to Boston.
Between the M’s and Red Sox, Rios has tossed 27 1/3 innings of 4.28 ERA ball. That’s come with similarly poor peripherals as Hartlieb’s, but Rios has missed plenty of bats in Triple-A. The 28-year-old has a 1.45 ERA in the minors with a 32.9% strikeout percentage. As with Hartlieb, it’s possible another team takes a flier based on that Triple-A dominance, although Rios is in his final option year. Any team that claims him would need to keep him on the active roster next season or expose him to waivers themselves. Rios has previously been outrighted in his career, so he’d have the right to elect free agency if he passes through unclaimed.