Right-handed pitcher Tommy Kahnle declined an outright assignment by the Yankees, instead choosing to become a free agent. He is now able to sign with any team once the free agency period opens.
Kahnle suffered an awfully timed elbow injury, undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. The recovery timeline for the injury made it unlikely Kahnle would be able to contribute much in 2021. Though Kahnle still had one more season of arbitration left, the Yankees decided to outright him, given how little he stood to play next year, and since the move clears a spot on their 40-man roster.
The reliever opted to refuse the assignment, his right as a player with more than three years of service time. Kahnle will now test the market, possibly in hopes of signing a two-year deal somewhere that would allow him to rehab with a club for the bulk of 2021, while targeting 2022 as his true return to form.
There’s certainly nothing precluding the Yankees from being that club. It appeared the team was going this route with Adam Warren, who signed a two-year minor league deal with New York last December, a few months after undergoing TJ himself. Unfortunately for Warren, the Yankees released ahead of the shortened season.
We’ll see where Kahnle lands soon enough. Hopefully, his rehab progresses well and he can again perform at a high level, as he did for much of his Yankees tenure.