Baez appeared in three games with the Astros before being released in late April, but didn’t return to the mound until July, when he pitched with the Dodgers’ Arizona Complex League affiliate. Moving to Triple-A Oklahoma City at the end of July, Baez struggled to a 14.29 ERA over 5 2/3 innings in OKC, with much of that damage coming in his final outing. Just yesterday, Baez allowed five runs without recording a single out against the Sugar Land Skeeters.
From 2014-20, Baez was a very dependable member of the Los Angeles bullpen, posting a 3.03 ERA over 356 innings with the Dodgers and helping the team capture the World Series in 2020. However, Baez’s strikeout rate and fastball velocity both started to decline during that 2020 season, but that didn’t stop Houston from inking the right-hander to a two-year deal worth a guaranteed $12.5MM.
That deal ended up being a bust for the Astros, as Baez threw only 6 2/3 innings in a Houston uniform before being released in April. Shoulder problems kept Baez on the sidelines for the majority of the 2021 season, and given his near-total lack of results over the last two years, there is certainly a fear that Baez may no longer be effective as a big league pitcher (or perhaps even as a Triple-A pitcher) at age 34.
The Dodgers would’ve only owed Baez the prorated portion of the Major League minimum salary if he’d reached their active roster, so with this release, the Dodgers cost themselves nothing by seeing if a familiar face could regain his old form. The Astros are responsible for what remains of Baez’s $5.5MM salary for the 2022 season, and that figure will only lessen by a prorated minimum salary if another team should sign Baez and add him to the MLB roster.