Pirates reliever Duane Underwood Jr. has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis, tweets Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The right-hander went unclaimed on waivers after being designated for assignment last weekend.
This was the likeliest outcome following Underwood’s DFA. He and the Pirates had agreed to a $1.025MM contract to avoid arbitration over the offseason. Underwood has between three and five years of MLB service time, meaning he could’ve chosen free agency but would’ve had to surrender that guaranteed money to do so.
It has been a tough start to the season for the 28-year-old. Underwood logged 24 1/3 innings over 20 appearances but stumbled to a 5.18 ERA. He struck out a below-average 14% of opponents against a lofty 11% walk rate. Underwood has never had pinpoint control but he’s typically had more success missing bats. He fanned 22% of batters faced in 57 1/3 innings last year and carried a career 22.5% strikeout percentage into this season.
Given his slow start and a salary that’s a bit higher than the league minimum, it’s not surprising he went unclaimed on waivers. Underwood will head to Triple-A for the first time since 2019 (aside from one appearance there on a rehab stint last year) and try to find his form. He’d qualify for minor league free agency at the end of the season if the Pirates don’t add him back to the 40-man roster.