Nationals halt former Red Sox closer's comeback with DFA

Houston Astros v Washington Nationals
Houston Astros v Washington Nationals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

After he couldn't stick it out in the big leagues with the Miami Marlins in 2023, former Boston Red Sox closer Matt Barnes attempted an MLB comeback with the Washington Nationals.

Barnes signed a minor-league deal with the Nats during spring training. The righty threw five scoreless innings during spring training and he made the major league roster out of camp. It seemed like Barnes' fortunes were turning after a lackluster 2023 campaign, during which he pitched to a 5.48 ERA in 21.1 innings.

But Barnes' struggles continued into his tenure in Washington. The closer posted a 6.75 ERA in 13.1 frames before the Nationals designated him for assignment on May 7.

Barnes began his career with the Red Sox and his struggles started to mount in 2021. After he needed a stint on the COVID-19 list at the end of August and did not return to play until mid-September. By that point, he had lost his job as closer and was initially left off the ALDS and ALCS rosters.

Nationals designated former Red Sox closer Matt Barnes for assignment

Barnes' 2022 campaign wasn't good enough for Boston to want to keep him around. He posted a 7.94 ERA through late March, and he spent the majority of the season on the IL with a shoulder issue. Upon his return in August, Barnes was able to level his ERA out to 4.31, but Boston DFA'd him before the 2023 season to give his roster spot to Adam Duvall.

Barnes spent his 2023 season in Miami but he continued to struggle to miss bats, which carried into his play in Washington. All hope is not lost for the pitcher after his designation for assignment, though. Another team could claim him off waivers, which may be the least likely option. But if Barnes makes it back to the Nats' minor-league system, he could pitch his way back to the big leagues, provided he shows enough improvement.

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