The Rangers have released veteran right-handed reliever Jacob Barnes, per the league transaction log at MiLB.com. He’d been pitching with their Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock but will now be free to sign with any club.
Barnes, 33, posted good results with the Rangers organization, logging 20 1/3 innings of 2.21 ERA ball during his time with their Round Rock club. He turned in a strong 52.3% ground-ball rate and 0.44 HR/9 mark, although his 17.5% strikeout rate and 10.3% walk rate were both more concerning.
A former 14th-round pick (2011), Barnes debuted with the Brewers in 2016 and was a mainstay in their bullpen for three seasons, compiling 147 1/3 innings of 3.54 ERA ball with a quality 24.4% strikeout rate against an elevated 9.9% walk rate. His results fell off in 2019, however, and he’s bounced around six big league rosters since leaving Milwaukee (Royals, Angels, Mets, Blue Jays, Tigers, Yankees). Dating back to 2019, Barnes has a 6.37 ERA in 101 2/3 frames, thanks largely to a hefty 1.59 HR/9 mark.
While Barnes has struggled with the long ball, he was averaging 95.4 mph on his heater last year, generally keeps the ball on the ground at an above-average rate (career 49%) and has frequently shown the ability to generate strikeouts at average or better rates. Barnes’ career 23.3% strikeout rate is a bit higher than the 2023 league average (22.7%), and his career 13.1% swinging-strike rate is two percentage points above the 11.1% league-average mark. In three separate seasons, he’s run that swinging-strike rate just shy of or even in excess of 15%, suggesting the potential for a well above-average strikeout rate.
It’s been a few years since Barnes has had big league success, but this year’s 2.21 ERA in Triple-A would be his highest of the past three seasons at that level. Between that run of upper-minors success, the league-wide need for bullpen depth and Barnes’ combination of velocity, whiffs and grounders, he ought to find another opportunity in his return to the open market.