Jon Garland declines mutual option for 2011, declares free agency

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According to Dan Hayes of the North County Times, Jon Garland declined his $6.75 mutual option with the Padres for 2011 and will test the free agent waters. Per the terms of his contract, the veteran right-hander will receive a $300,000 buyout from the club.

Garland, who turned 31 in September, went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA over 33 starts with the Padres this past season. He averaged a career-high 6.1 K/9, but also saw his walk rate jump from 2.8 BB/9 last season to 3.9 BB/9.

He ended up being a pretty good bargain for the Padres on a one-year, $4.7 million contract, though a pretty fortunate batting average on balls in play and pitching at PETCO Park (3.00 ERA at home, 4.01 ERA away) certainly helped.

With a pretty thin market for free agent starters this winter, Garland will rightfully look to cash in with a multi-year contract. He’s a reliable innings-eater, but to expect a repeat in a more hitter-friendly environment would be foolish.

For what it’s worth, Garland ranked No. 21 on Matthew Pouliot’s list of the Top 111 free agents.