AUGUST 10: Pruitt has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-Jacksonville, according to the MLB.com transactions tracker. As a player with more than three years of MLB service, Pruitt had the right to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency. Doing so would’ve meant forfeiting the remainder of his $617.5K salary, though, and he has indeed accepted an assignment to Jacksonville, where he made his first appearance this evening. If he’s not selected back to the 40-man roster before the end of the season, Pruitt will qualify for minor league free agency this winter.
AUGUST 5: The Marlins are designating right-hander Austin Pruitt for assignment in order to open a roster spot for lefty Braxton Garrett to be recalled from Triple-A, tweets Christina De Nicola of MLB.com.
It’s a bit of a surprise, given that Miami just acquired Pruitt alongside outfield prospect Bryan De La Cruz in the trade that sent right-hander Yimi Garcia to Houston. Then again, Pruitt himself was in DFA limbo at the time of that swap, having recently been designated by the Astros. It was clear at the time that De La Cruz was Miami’s target in that swap, and today’s move only further underscores that reality.
Pruitt, 31, did appear in one game with the Marlins and toss a scoreless inning. He’s pitched just 3 2/3 innings so far in 2021, allowing a pair of runs on four hits with no walks and a strikeout in that short time. That marks Pruitt’s first action since the 2019 season; he missed all of the 2020 campaign with an elbow fracture that required surgical repair — a procedure that also sidelined him well into the 2021 season.
Prior to that injury, Pruitt had spent parts of three seasons with the Rays, working to a 4.87 ERA and 4.28 FIP in 199 2/3 frames. Pruitt didn’t miss tons bats in that time (17.2 percent strikeout rate, 9.9 percent swinging-strike rate), but he excelled at keeping the ball on the ground, inducing weak contact and limiting walks. Pruitt’s 5.8 percent walk rate in that three-year stretch was considerably better than the league average, and he also posted a healthy 48.9 percent grounder rate while getting opponents to chase out of the strike zone at a hearty 34.2 percent clip. Those traits, plus elite spin rates on his curveball, all surely appealed to Houston when trading for Pruitt in the 2019-20 offseason.
With the deadline to trade big league players behind us, Pruitt will be placed on either outright waivers or release waivers. Any of the other 29 teams will have the opportunity to claim.
Garrett, the No. 7 overall draft pick in 2016, returns to the Majors on his 24th birthday. He’s tossed 22 1/3 innings for Miami already this season, working to a 4.37 ERA with a below-average 20.2 percent strikeout rate and a 9.1 percent walk rate.