The deadline for MLB clubs to tender contracts to players was Friday night, and the Yankees decided to non-tender Jacob Lindgren. In turn, that move made Lindgren a free agent. At the time, it appeared to be a strategic move to clear Lindgren off of the 40-man roster, and it seemed like the Yankees would then sign him to a minor league deal. That is something they have done fairly often in the past, with the likes of Slade Heathcott and Domingo German.
In a surprising turn of events, the Braves have swooped in and signed Lindgren. According to Jon Heyman, Lindgren’s contract with the Braves is an MLB deal and he is set to make 600K in 2017 with a bonus taking him near $1 million.
Lindgren has had his fair share of struggles since being drafted by the Yankees in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft. The lefty impressed many during his 2014 stint in the minors, striking out 48 batters through 24.2 innings (17.5 K/9). Lindgren began the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton and made his major league debut towards the end of May. Through seven innings, Lindgren gave up three home runs (including one to Caleb Joseph), struck out eight batters, and posted a 5.14 ERA. Shortly thereafter, he was demoted to Triple-A and it was announced that Lindgren would undergo surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. That surgery ended up keeping him out for the remainder of the season.
Unfortunately, things didn’t really improve for Lindgren in 2016. He was one of the first players cut from spring training, and started the season back in High-A Tampa. Lindgren only tossed seven innings in Tampa, but he walked nine batters with just eight strikeouts during that time. At the end of April, Lindgren was once again placed on the DL with an elbow injury, though the extent of that injury wasn’t really revealed. He did not pitch again in a minor league game for the rest of the season, and in August the Yankees announced that Lindgren would have to undergo Tommy John surgery.
On the one hand, it makes sense that the Yankees would want Lindgren off of the 40-man roster. Now they only have 39 players, which gives them the chance to nab a player during the Rule 5 Draft on December 8th. However, it seems a little short-sighted to give up on Lindgren before he’s had a real chance. He pitched well in the minors in 2014, and he spent much of the 2015 and 2016 seasons dealing with elbow injuries. Now Lindgren will miss the entire 2017 season as he recovers from TJS. It would have been nice to see the Yankees work out a deal to keep Lindgren, but hopefully things will work out for him in Atlanta.