The Pittsburgh Pirates have outrighted right-handed reliever Ernesto Frieri to Triple-A, according to the MLB.com transactions page. This means that Frieri cleared waivers unclaimed.
Frieri came to the Pirates in a deal that sent Jason Grilli to the Los Angeles Angels in a swap of struggling relievers. Frieri never bounced back, and actually did worse in his time with the Pirates. He posted a 10.13 ERA in 10.2 innings, with an 8.4 K/9 and a 4.2 BB/9.
This might actually be the best thing that could happen for the Pirates and Frieri. Trying to turn him around quickly in a playoff race was a challenge. Trying to turn him around in the minors, where there is no pressure, no consequences to the poor outings, and he can get some work in with Jim Benedict, could be much more effective. I could see Frieri making it back up to Pittsburgh at some point when rosters expand, as that would allow the Pirates to keep him around next year if he does show improvements over the final months.
He looked like a good bounce back candidate when acquired, and that obviously didn’t happen in Pittsburgh. I still think he’s a bounce back candidate, and it looks like the Pirates will have more time to work with him now.
It’s also possible that Frieri could decline the assignment and become a free agent, although in doing so he would forfeit the remainder of his $3.8 M salary this year. Thus, it’s doubtful that this happens.