TODAY: Adams has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the Mets announced. Adams has apparently decided to forego his opt-out opportunity and will remain with the organization, and attend Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
FEBRUARY 6: Right-hander Austin Adams was designated for assignment by the Mets, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. That move opens a roster spot for Jake Diekman, whose previously-reported signing has now been officially announced by the club.
Adams, 33 in May, just signed with the Mets at the end of November. His contract is a non-guaranteed split deal, meaning he will earn different salaries depending on whether he’s in the majors or the minors. The exact figures of Adams’ contract haven’t been reported, but deals of this nature often feature a modest major league salary but the minor league salary is significantly larger than what the average minor leaguer would make.
While it might seem strange to sign a player and then cut him from the roster a few months later, the club is usually hoping for the player to pass through waivers unclaimed and then remain in the organization as non-roster depth. Adams has more than three years of service time, meaning he would have the right to reject an outright assignment and return to free agency. But since he has less than five years of service time, exercising that right would mean walking away from the money remaining on his deal.
For an example of this recently playing out, Austin Wynns signed a split deal with the Reds in December which will pay him $950K in the majors and $300K in the minors. A couple of weeks later, Wynns was designated for assignment and then outrighted after going unclaimed on waivers. Per the minor league CBA that was agreed to by MLB and MLBPA last April, the minimum salary of a Triple-A player is just under $36K, meaning Wynns will be making almost 10 times that even if he never gets his roster spot back. There’s been no reporting of him electing free agency since he was outrighted over a month ago, so he has presumably decided to accept and keep that $300K salary locked in as a floor for himself.
The Mets will be hoping the same happens with Adams, though there’s also a risk that some other club would claim him off waivers. That happened to the Orioles last year when they signed Jake Cave to a split deal, tried to get him off the roster but saw the Phillies swoop in with a waiver claim. If any club is particularly intrigued by the current deal Adams is on, they will have an opportunity to get him. The Mets will have one week to work out a trade or pass him through waivers.
Adams has 114 1/3 innings of major league experience to this point in his career, having allowed 4.17 earned runs per nine. His career strikeout rate of 33.1% is quite strong, but he’s paired that with notable control issues. His 14.6% walk rate is on the high side and he also amazingly plunked 24 hitters while with the Padres in 2021. That was the most of any pitcher in any season dating back to 1910, even though Adams only threw 52 2/3 innings of relief.
That doesn’t seem to have deterred the Mets, who appear to be taking a gamble this offseason in buying low on pitchers with control issues. Diekman has a 13.3% walk rate in his career while Shintaro Fujinami, also signed to a one-year deal, walked 12.6% of batters faced in his first MLB season. Yohan Ramírez, acquired in a small trade, also has big walk numbers. The same applies to guys who signed minor league deals like Cole Sulser, Yacksel Ríos, Chad Smith and Andre Scrubb. Adams may soon join that latter group as non-roster depth pitchers whom the Mets will be hoping to help harness their stuff.