The Royals announced today that they have requested unconditional release waivers on left-hander Amir Garrett. The lefty had been designated for assignment last week, and will now officially become a free agent upon clearing.
Garrett struggled badly during his tenure with Kansas City, which began when he was traded to the Royals by the Reds in exchange for fellow lefty Mike Minor. Since then, Garrett has been a roughly league average reliever by the numbers, with a 4.39 ERA (96 ERA+) and a 4.16 FIP 87 appearances with the Royals. Garrett has been held back from being a stronger set-up option in these past two seasons thanks to serious control problems, with a 16.9% walk rate during his Royals tenure. Those issues have been magnified across 24 1/3 innings of work this season, as Garrett has allowed free passes at an even higher 17.9% rate. If not for an unsustainable 85.2% strand rate this season, Garrett’s strong 3.33 ERA this season would surely be significantly higher, as illustrated by his concerning peripherals (5.58 FIP, 5.05 SIERA).
Garrett had just over five years of major league service time entering the 2023 campaign, and any player with at least five years of service time has the right to reject an outright assignment without forgoing the remainder of his salary. Additionally, no club would have had interest in taking on the remainder of Garrett’s $2.65MM salary for the 2023 campaign when he could be had for no more than the prorated major league minimum if signed after he hits the open market. As such, the Royals’ decision to forgo outright waivers and simply release Garrett was little more than a formality.
Once Garrett officially clears waivers, he’ll be free to sign with any of the other 29 organizations in the league, which would only have to pay him a prorated portion of the major league minimum for the rest of the season, leaving the Royals on the hook for the remainder of his 2023 salary. While Garrett’s control problems are certainly glaring, as a lefty bullpen arm who had success back in 2019 and 2020 with the Reds, when he posted a 3.03 ERA in 90 appearances, he certainly could draw interest from rival clubs on a no-risk minor league deal with a club that thinks it can help Garrett reclaim his previous form.