November 10: Anderson has cleared waivers and elected free agency, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
November 9: The Rays have placed right-hander Nick Anderson on outright waivers, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. The hard-throwing reliever no longer occupies a spot on Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster, and other clubs have an opportunity to add him if they’re willing to devote him a roster spot.
It’s certainly not the way the Rays envisioned Anderson’s tenure in the organization coming to a close. He had a breakout rookie season with the Marlins in 2019, and Tampa Bay flipped highly-touted outfielder Jesús Sánchez to Miami to add him at the deadline. Anderson posted a 2.11 ERA with a laughable 52.6% strikeout rate in 21 1/3 innings down the stretch. Anderson followed up with a 0.55 ERA across 16 1/3 innings during the shortened 2020 season, working as manager Kevin Cash’s most-trusted leverage arm in both of those years.
Unfortunately, Anderson’s form was diminished in the 2020 postseason. He had some forearm inflammation late in that season, proving a precursor to two years lost to injury. He was diagnosed with a partial UCL tear during Spring Training 2021. He appeared in only six games before going back on the IL. Last October, Anderson underwent a UCL brace procedure to repair his ligament. He was out until August, then suffered plantar fasciitis in his right foot late in the year.
Anderson’s 2022 season consisted of just 16 innings with Triple-A Durham. He put up a 5.63 ERA with a modest 17.4% strikeout rate, and that diminished form eventually led the Rays to cut bait.
With between three and four years of MLB service, Anderson is eligible for arbitration for the first time. He’s projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for just an $845K salary, barely above the league minimum. That could lead another team to take a look at a formerly elite bullpen arm via waivers. If Anderson were to go unclaimed, he’d have the right to refuse an outright assignment in favor of minor league free agency.