The Astros informed reporters (including Jake Kaplan of the Athletic) this afternoon that reliever Pedro Báez has cleared waivers and been unconditionally released. This was the anticipated outcome after the team designated the right-hander for assignment on Tuesday.
Báez’s tenure in Houston comes to a disappointing end. Signed to a two-year, $12.5MM guarantee in January 2021, he wound up making just seven appearances in an Astros uniform. His tenure was set back by an early positive COVID-19 diagnosis, which delayed his season debut. During his attempt to ramp-up after recovering, Báez came down with shoulder soreness that necessitated a lengthy stay on the injured list. Houston didn’t activate him for his team debut until the second week of August.
His return lasted just two weeks. Báez’s results were fine, but his fastball velocity — which had been in the 94-96 MPH range during his two prior seasons with the Dodgers — had plummeted south of 91 MPH. Báez went back on the IL in late August with more shoulder soreness and didn’t return last year. He returned to the mound to open the 2022 campaign, but he averaged just north of 90 MPH on his heater through three outings. Báez was tagged for six runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.
Paired with his diminished arsenal, those subpar results convinced the front office to pull the plug. At the time of his designation, Houston general manager James Click praised Báez’s work ethic and attempts to rediscover his velocity but conceded the team hadn’t gotten “the progress we had hoped to see to get him back to the form he was in when we signed him” (via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com).
The Astros will remain on the hook for the approximate $4.9MM still due to Báez for the rest of this season. They’ll also owe him a $2MM buyout on a 2023 club option. Any other team can now take a look on a low-cost deal. A team that signs Báez would owe him only the prorated portion of the $700K league minimum salary, which would be subtracted from Houston’s expenditures, for any time he spends in the majors.