ST. PETERSBURG — Infielder Matt Duffy is now a free agent.
Duffy was designated for assignment last week when the Rays needed a roster spot and were unable to find a team willing to make a trade given that he was in line for a projected $2.9 million arbitration salary.
Now that Duffy, who will be 29 in January, has cleared waivers and been released, a team is free to negotiate on any terms, and he should have robust interest at a reduced price.
Injuries have been the biggest issue for Duffy, who played in only 199 of a possible 544 games for the Rays after being acquired in trade from the Giants on Aug. 1, 2016. He missed time at the end of the 2016 season and all of 2017 with heel injuries, then the first two-thirds of 2019 due to a hamstring and back issues.
When healthy, Duffy was a solid contributor, hitting .284 with six homers, 63 RBIs and a .708 OPS during his three seasons with the Rays while also playing mostly strong defense, primarily at third base. The Rays also raved about the leadership he provided, especially to a relatively young team.
"Wish that his health and his time with us would have gone different in that regard and we could have had him on the field more,’’ Rays general manager Erik Neander said after the Nov. 20 designated-for-assignment decision. “He really is a special player and there’s the obvious stuff you can measure in how he impacts a game. His intangibles, his leadership, his influence on a younger impressionable clubhouse like we have is worth a lot. And that especially made this a very difficult decision and we’ll certainly miss him in that regard.’’
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.