Last week the Yankees designated David Aardsma for assignment and today they released the veteran reliever, which isn’t surprising after manager Joe Girardi said he “didn’t really fit” the team’s plans.
Aardsma hasn’t been healthy since 2010, as elbow and hip surgeries derailed what was a pretty solid two-season run as the Mariners’ closer. He’s logged a grand total of just 12 innings between the majors and minors since 2011, but Aardsma looked decent in a handful of spring training appearances last month.
New York is on the hook to pay him $500,000 after exercising a 2013 option on Aardsma back in November.
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.
Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.
His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.
The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.