The Pittsburgh Pirates have cut ties with embattled right-hander Ernesto Frieri, reportedly releasing the former closer, per Baseball America's Matt Eddy. Frieri had been designated for assignment by Pittsburgh last month, ultimately accepting a demotion to Triple-A.
Frieri's release caps off a rough season for the 28-year-old who began the seasons as the Angels' closer. After watching as Joe Smith eclipsed him as the Angels' primary ninth inning option (a job since handed to Huston Street), Frieri was soon dealt to the Pirates in a swap of struggling closers that sent Jason Grilli to Anaheim. While Grilli has been great since landing with the Angels (2.28 ERA, 1.78 FIP), Frieri had been downright atrocious (10.13 ERA, 6.59 FIP) prior to exiting the Pirates' organization.
A secretly brilliant reliever with the Padres in 2010 and 2011, Frieri burst onto the national season after an early-season trade to the Angels in 2012. Frieri didn't give up a single run in his first 26 appearances with the Angels, ultimately landing the club's full-time closing gig by the end of the season. He regressed last year, but was still solid, posting a 3.80 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 12.8 K/9, and 3.9 BB/9 in 68.2 innings pitched, while also picking up 37 saves.
Frieri should receive plenty of interest as a rebound candidate this winter.