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Right-hander Joe Biagini has rejected an outright assignment from the Astros in favor of free agency, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan). He was designated for assignment late last month.

The move was all but a foregone conclusion after Biagini cleared waivers. Players with three-plus years of service time have the right to become free agents at the end of a season in which they’ve been outrighted off the 40-man roster, and there’s no reason for Biagini not to explore his opportunities under that setting. Virtually every three-plus service player who is outrighted goes this route unless they have a guaranteed contract they’d forfeit by taking free agency. That wasn’t the case with Biagini, who played out the 2020 season on a one-year deal after avoiding arbitration last winter.

Biagini, 30, was a solid reliever for much of his time with the Blue Jays but immediately struggled upon being traded to Houston alongside Aaron Sanchez in the 2019 trade that brought Derek Fisher to Toronto. Biagini served up a dozen runs in just 14 2/3 innings down the stretch in 2019, and he was clobbered for 10 runs in just four outings this year. Overall, he logged a 10.74 ERA in 19 frames as an Astro.

That (clearly) wasn’t what the ’Stros had in mind when acquiring a righty who, through 50 innings in 2019 at the time of the trade, had pitched to a 3.78 ERA with a 50-to-17 K/BB ratio. Beyond those rudimentary numbers, Biagini boasted elite spin rate on his breaking ball as well as career-high swinging-strike and opponents’ chase rates at the time of the trade. There was plenty for the Astros to dream on, but their high hopes for Biagini simply never came together.

Biagini will hit what is expected to be a tepid free-agent market and likely need to prove himself to a new club on a minor league deal. He carries a 5.07 ERA in 328 big league innings, although that mark is weighed down a bit by an unsuccessful attempt by the Blue Jays to work him into the rotation (6.08 career ERA as a starter). Prior to being traded to Houston, Biagini carried a 4.04 ERA in just over 200 inning of relief. Biagini has four-plus years of service, so if he latches on with a new club and rights the ship, he’d be controllable through the 2022 season via arbitration.

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