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Matt Barnes Chooses Free Center

10:44am: The Nationals announced that Barnes had turned down a straight offer in favor of free agency.

May 9, 10:17am: Barnes cleared waivers and was assigned directly to the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate in Rochester, per the team's career log on He has enough time of service to refuse the assignment in favor of a free offer, if he so chooses.

May 7: The Nationals announced Tuesday that they have designated the right-hander Matt Barnes by share. His place in the active list will go to the left Robert Garcia, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Nats' 40-man roster now has 39 players.

Barnes, 33, signed a minor league deal with Washington at the start of Spring Training. He made the Opening Day roster after pitching five scoreless innings in camp. The seasoned player did not win this season. Barnes allowed 11 runs (10 earned) over 13 1/3 frames while working in mediocre situations. His 8% swing rate is well below the league average and his career 12.3%.

It's the second straight season that Barnes has struggled with missed at-bats. He struck out in a career low 7.8% of his offerings en route to a 5.48 ERA in 21 1/3 innings with the Marlins last year. That season was cut short before the All-Star Break due to a left groin injury that required surgery. Barnes' speed has yet to return to pre-surgery levels. His average fastball velocity of 91.4 MPH and curveball velocity of 81.5 MPH are each down two ticks from where he was in 2023.

Barnes averaged around 95-96 MPH on his heater and in the mid-80s with his breaking ball during his prime with the Red Sox. That includes four seasons of under-4.00 ERA ball in a five-year span from 2017-21. Barnes used to strike out more than 30% of opposing batters during that stretch and took over the closer role in Boston in 2021. He earned an All-Star that season and earned a two-year, $18.75MM extension that July.

A shoulder injury in 2022 and the aforementioned hip problem prevented Barnes from recapturing that form in the two-plus years since. The Nats will technically have five days to trade him, but there is a good chance he will be released. Barnes is locked into a $2MM base salary when he makes Washington's roster. If he is not asked to be waived, the Nationals will face the bulk of that contract. The other team that later signs him will be owed a split portion of the $740K minimum for any time he spends on their MLB roster.

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