Barnes, 32, is a veteran in his seventh season of MLB action, having previously pitched for the Brewers, Royals, Angels, Mets and Blue Jays, before signing with the Tigers in the offseason on a minor league deal. He made Detroit’s Opening Day roster and threw 20 2/3 innings out of their bullpen, but saw his strikeouts mysteriously evaporate. Prior to this year, he had a career strikeout rate of 24.4% but saw that drop to just 11.2% this year. Given that development and his unsightly 6.10 ERA, the Tigers designated him for assignment about a month ago.
Once he cleared waivers, the Tigers were on the hook for the remainder of his $1.13MM salary. As a veteran with over five years of MLB service time, Barnes has the right to reject an outright assignment and elect free agency while still retaining his rate of pay. Any team that picked him up would only owe him the prorated league minimum, with that amount being subtracted from what the Tigers pay.
Barnes latched on with the Mariners on a minors deal about a week later and joined the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. He threw four innings there and got an encouraging five strikeouts, though in a very tiny sample size. The M’s selected him to the big league club on Saturday for an extra bullpen arm but have now sent him into DFA limbo without getting him into a game. Since Barnes is out of options, this was the only way to get him off the roster to make room for Swanson.
Seattle will now have a week to trade Barnes, pass him through waivers or release him. Like his last DFA, the most likely scenario is that Barnes clears waivers and elects free agency again. He’ll then be free to work out a deal with any of the 30 teams, likely of the minor league variety.