By Jason Shetler
The Pirates have announced that Jared Hughes is now officially a free agent. He was placed on release waivers Wednesday.
Hughes had been in the Pirates organization since 2006 when he was drafted by them as a fourth rounder out of Long Beach State. The 31-year-old right-hander was primarily a starter before making the switch to reliever.
In 2011, Hughes joined the Pirates as a September call up. Over the next few years, he began to establish himself as one of the better groundball relievers in baseball, and was an integral part of the Pirates bullpen, especially in 2014 and 2015.
The 2016 season was a down year for Hughes, as he put up a Fielding Independent Pitching of 4.68, while posting a 58% groundball rate, which was a 6% decrease compared to the two seasons prior. Hughes and the Pirates agreed to terms on a one-year deal for $2.825 million to avoid arbitration this past offseason. Spring Training was a real struggle for him, as he posted an 11.57 ERA and allowed a ton of batters to reach base.