The Nationals announced that they have requested unconditional release waivers on right-hander Chad Kuhl. The righty was designated for assignment over the weekend and will now become a free agent upon clearing.
It’s a fairly expected outcome for Kuhl to find himself on release waivers, given his performance and contract. He settled for a minor league deal with the Nats this winter and cracked the club’s Opening Day rotation when Cade Cavalli required Tommy John surgery. Kuhl posted a 9.41 ERA through five starts before landing on the injured list due to a sprained big toe on his right foot. He returned a few weeks later and was bumped to the bullpen but then had a 7.16 ERA in his next 11 appearances before getting knocked off the roster this weekend.
As a veteran with over five years of major league service time, Kuhl would have had the right to reject an outright assignment and elect free agency while retaining all of his remaining salary. It was reported yesterday by the Associated Press that Kuhl is making a $2MM salary this year. No team was going to take that on money via waiver claim or trade, so the Nats have skipped the formalities of the outright process and just opted to release Kuhl.
Once he’s officially on the open market, he’ll be free to sign with any of the 29 other clubs, with the Nats remaining on hook for what’s left of his contract. The signing club would only be responsible for paying him the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the roster, which would be subtracted from what the Nats pay.
His struggles this season will obviously temper the interest, but he has been an effective big league pitcher in the past. With the Pirates from 2016 to 2021, he had a 4.44 ERA over 439 2/3 innings, striking out 20.8% of opponents while walking 10.3% and getting grounders on 41.7% of balls in play. A stint with the Rockies last year saw his ERA bump up to 5.72 prior to joining the Nats this year. Given the number of pitching injuries around the league, some club could be tempted to add Kuhl for no financial risk and see if he can bounce back.