The Padres announced Friday evening that reliever Sean Poppen has gone unclaimed on waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A El Paso. There’d been no previous indication Poppen was designated for assignment, so the move clears a spot on the San Diego 40-man roster. That count drops to 39.
Poppen landed in San Diego last month on a waiver claim from Arizona. The right-hander has pitched in the majors in each of the last four seasons, with the majority of that work coming since the start of 2021. Poppen has played for four different clubs, spending the past year-plus with the Diamondbacks.
In 67 1/3 career innings, the Harvard product has a 5.08 ERA. He’s posted a slightly below-average 22.3% strikeout rate and 10% walk percentage. It was a similar story in 2022, as Poppen worked to a 4.40 ERA across 28 2/3 frames. He struck out 18.3% of batters faced while handing out free passes at a 10% clip. He averaged a solid 94.6 MPH on his sinker but only generated swinging strikes on 6.3% of his total pitches.
Poppen has had more success in the minor leagues. He’s logged 121 innings over parts of three Triple-A seasons, working to a cumulative 3.50 ERA. The former 19th-round pick has fanned around 24% of opponents at the highest minor league level. He worked to a 4.62 ERA over 25 1/3 frames with Arizona’s top affiliate last year. That was his final option season, so the Friars couldn’t send him back to the minors without first passing him through waivers.
Despite appearing in parts of four MLB seasons, the 28-year-old has yet to reach two full years of big league service time. This is the first time in his career he’s been outrighted, so he won’t have the right to test minor league free agency. Poppen will presumably head to big league camp as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. If he doesn’t reclaim a 40-man roster spot before Opening Day, he’ll start the season in the El Paso bullpen.
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