Braden, Devine elect free agency
Lefty Dallas Braden and right-hander Joey Devine, both of whom have undergone two surgeries in the past three years, cleared outright waivers on Tuesday and elected to become free agents rather than accept a Triple-A assignment from the A’s.
The news isn’t much of a surprise, considering the pitchers’ injury-prone pasts, yet it doesn’t prevent them from resigning with Oakland, which could work out a one-year deal with either, or even a Minor League deal.
Braden, drafted by the A’s in 2004, missed the entire 2012 season, as he continued rehab from a 2011 surgery that repaired a torn capsule in his left shoulder, before also succumbing to yet another procedure in August to repair a rotator cuff. The 29-year-old isn’t expected to be able to pitch again until the second half of the 2013 season.
With that timetable in mind, Braden isn’t likely to receive much interest from other clubs, making the A’s the favorite to sign him, should they choose to bring him back. The southpaw has long expressed his desire to stay in Oakland, especially given the close proximity to his home in Stockton, Calif.
Braden could seemingly take his time rehabbing in the Minors, if given a Minor League deal by the A’s, and then give them experienced depth down the stretch once healthy. In 94 career appearances in Oakland, including 79 starts, he is 26-36 with a 4.16 ERA. Braden enjoyed his best season in 2010, when he authored baseball’s 19th perfect game and logged 192 2/3 innings spanning 30 starts — all career highs — with a 3.50 ERA.
Like Braden, Devine also missed the entirety of the 2012 season, after undergoing Tommy John surgery for a second time April 10 — 11 days short of the second anniversary of his first procedure, which forced him to miss the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Not only was there a tear in Devine’s ulnar collateral ligament the second time around, but surgeon James Andrews also had to monitor the debridement of the flexor tendon and repair damage to the ulnar nerve, which was covered in scar tissue.
Devine, a former first-round Draft pick by the Braves in 2005, has made just 26 big league appearances since his first surgery. Overall, the 29-year-old reliever owns a 2.75 ERA in 93 career appearances, including a 1.57 mark in 68 games in two seasons with the A’s, who aren’t likely to make a strong attempt at resigning him.
“I’m just going to let everything unfold as it may,” Devine told MLB.com. “I do, however, think a fresh start would be best for me and my family.”