McFarland, 33, is a veteran playing in his tenth MLB season, having previously suited up for the Orioles, Diamondbacks and Athletics. Last year, he signed a minor league deal with the Nationals but was granted his release in order to pursue an opportunity with the Cardinals. That ended up working out very well for McFarland and the Cards, as he registered an ERA of 2.56 over 38 2/3 innings with the club. McFarland was always a low-strikeout, high-grounder guy, which he continued with a 14.6% strikeout rate and 63.7% ground ball rate.
It seems both sides were quite happy with the arrangement, as the Cardinals quickly re-signed McFarland on the first day of free agency last year. The southpaw is making a salary of $2.5MM this year, with $500K of incentives also in the deal. Unfortunately, things have taken a sour turn here in 2022, with McFarland currently wearing an ERA of 6.61. His ground ball rate, while still above average, has slid to 53%. His strikeout rate has slid even further below average, coming in at 11% on the season. He’s also seen his BABIP jump up to .333 after being at .261 last year and his HR/FB jump from 12% to 16.7%. Based on the poor results, the Cardinals have decided to go in a different direction.
With the trade deadline now in the rearview mirror, the Cardinals will only be able to choose between placing McFarland on outright waivers or release waivers. It’s effectively a moot point, as McFarland has enough service time to reject an outright assignment and return to free agency. Though his salary isn’t exorbitant, he’s likely to go unclaimed on waivers and become a free agent again. Once that happens, he could garner interest from teams around the league, despite his down year. Left-handed relief is always in demand and many teams are lacking in that department. Both the Mariners and the Blue Jays, for instance, are currently without even a single southpaw in their respective bullpens.