After allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 innings on Sunday, Freddy Garcia has been optioned to Triple-A by the Orioles. The veteran right-hander can elect free agency rather than report to the minors due to his service time. He has already cleared waivers.
Garcia, 36, pitched to a 5.77 ERA and 1.36 WHIP for Baltimore in 53 innings spread across 10 starts and one relief appearance. In 17 2/3 innings this month, he has allowed 20 runs on 37 base-runners and nine home runs. Opponents have tagged him for a .390/.435/.805 batting line in June, enough to make teammate Chris Davis (.336/.413/.719) blush.
It's easy to forget Garcia was a solid starting pitcher as recently as 2011, when he managed 3.62 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 25 starts (and one relief appearance) for the Yankees. That's no small feat in a small home ballpark in the AL East. Unfortunately, that is also the only time he's posted an above league average ERA since 2009.
Arm injuries, particularly a torn labrum and rotator cuff that required surgery in 2007, forced Garcia to tranform himself from power pitcher into a junkballer. His fastball has sat in the mid-to-high-80s for the last few years, meaning a wide array of changeups and breaking balls and split-finger pitchers have become his bread and butter. Considering he has a 95 ERA+ in 535 innings since surgery, I'd say he did a pretty darn good job making the transition.
Garcia told MLB.com's Brit Ghiroli that he will head home to Miami for a few days before deciding on his next step. He did not rule out accepting the minor league assignment and returning to Triple-A, where he opened the year. Given his age and recent ineffectiveness (78 ERA+ since the start of last year), it's easy to wonder if Garcia's big league career is over. Starting pitching is always in demand, but it takes a desperate club to turn to a soft-tosser on the wrong side of 35.
If he is done, Garcia will leave MLB with a 155-106 career record and a 4.18 ERA (106 ERA+) across parts of 15 seasons, which is a pretty fantastic career. He was also traded by the Astros to the Mariners for Randy Johnson as a 22-year-old in 1998, another feather in his cap. Not bad, Freddy. Not bad at all.