The Texas Rangers have activated Mike Foltynewicz from the COVID-19 injured list, the team announced today. To make room for him on the active and 40 man roster, the team has designated pitcher Kohei Arihara for assignment.
The timing of this is interesting, but realistically, neither of these moves is that unexpected. Foltynewicz had been working out in Arizona and was recently reported to be traveling with the team. With a 5.54 ERA and a 6.13 FIP, Foltynewicz has been a disappointment this season, and it wouldn’t have been all that surprising if he had not been activated, or had been activated and waived. With the Rangers trying to manage the innings for their young pitchers the rest of the way, however, Foltynewicz can be plugged in for a couple of starts and sop up some innings, while guys like Glenn Otto and A.J. Alexy log just a few innings per week. Foltynewicz also is arb-eligible this offseason, so Texas could hang onto him for a while in the offseason as a potential insurance policy if they are struggling to acquire veteran starters to fill out the 2022 rotation.
As for Arihara, he will now be waived, and almost certainly will clear waivers. Arihara is owed $3.6 million for 2022, and he will still be paid that by the Rangers if he clears waivers and is outrighted. If that happens Arihara would remain in the Rangers organization and come to spring training as an NRI.
That assumes, however, that there isn’t a clause in Arihara’s contract allowing him to request his release if he isn’t on the 40 man roster. That also assumes that Arihara wants to stay in the U.S. rather than return to Japan. It wouldn’t be all that shocking if Arihara prefers to go back to the JPL, and after a 2021 season where he has not looked like a major league caliber pitcher, I’m sure the Rangers would be fine releasing him from his contract so he can return.
Chris Young is apparently going to talk about this move after the game, so we may have more info then.