Baez agreed to a minor-league deal with the Dodgers on Thursday, Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times reports. The veteran right-hander was let go by the Astros in late April and will now have a reunion with the Dodgers. Baez allowed three runs over 2.1 innings for Houston this season, but the larger issue is that his fastball velocity averaged only 89.1 mph, which is a far cry from the mid-90s fastball he featured only two years ago. He was a staple of the Los Angeles bullpen and had a 3.03 ERA with 100 holds from 2014 to 2020, but since then he's fallen off considerably and will need to illustrate he's worthy of another chance in the big leagues.
The Astros released Baez on Thursday after he went unclaimed off waivers, Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle reports. As anticipated, none of MLB's other 29 teams were willing to put in a waiver claim for Baez, who was designated for assignment Tuesday less than a month into his second season with Houston after he signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal in January 2021. The Astros ended up getting just seven relief appearances from Baez, who missed most of his inaugural campaign in Houston with a shoulder injury. He reported to spring training at full health but showed a considerable decline in his velocity, with his fastball averaging just 89.1 miles per hour over his three appearances this season. Considering that he routinely worked in the mid-to-upper-90s during his prime years with the Dodgers in the second half of this past decade, the 34-year-old Baez may have a tough time re-emerging as an effective reliever at the big-league level.
Baez was designated for assignment by the Astros on Tuesday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Baez has appeared in only three games over the first few weeks of the season and gave up three earned runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts over 2.1 innings. The 34-year-old signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Houston in January of 2021, but he only ended up pitching 4.1 frames last year before his early struggles in 2022.
Baez (back) made his Grapefruit League debut Tuesday against the Nationals, issuing two walks while striking out one in a scoreless inning. A bout with COVID-19 along with shoulder and back injuries limited Baez to just four appearances with the big club in 2021, but he was expected to report to spring training at full health. However, given that Baez didn't make his debut until more than two weeks into camp, it's fair to question whether he's in optimal condition as Opening Day draws closer. Though he was able to escape his lone inning of work unscathed, he threw just 11 of his 23 pitches for strikes and sported a fastball that sat in the 88-90 mph range, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. That's roughly on par with his average fastball velocity during his injury-plagued 2021 campaign, but well below the mid-90s heat he routinely averaged over the prior seven seasons with the Dodgers. Even if Baez is deemed good to go for Opening Day, the Astros may not entrust him with handling high-leverage work right off the bat.
Baez (shoulder) won't pitch again this season, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Baez began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sugar Land in late September, and he's allowed four runs on seven hits and no walks in 2.2 innings across three appearances with the minor-league club. However, manager Dusty Baker said Saturday that the right-hander won't rejoin the major-league roster in 2021. As long as he remains on track during the offseason, Baez will likely be ready for the start of spring training in 2022.
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