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What happened to Adam Liberatore?

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  • What happened to Adam Liberatore?

    Last Sept 5, Adam Liberatore was on the disabled list and assigned to OKC, when, just as the PCL playoffs began, he was cut. Why? Was it numbers? Politics? Merits? Rules? Is it just that baseball is a cruel business?

    He spent much of 2018 shuttling between the majors and the minors, and since he was in the minors at the moment, the issue didn't involve some CBA thing pertaining to sending him down again. His transaction corresponded to the rental acquisition of Ryan Madson (at the approximate cost of $1.25M and a prospect), but it seems like an unlikely connection for Madson's rental to result in Liberatore's firing. Injured players don't count against the 40-man roster, so there wasn't a pressing need to restructure that after Madson joined the team.

    Libratore is hardly a bum. In 2016, he set a team record with 28 consecutive scoreless appearances. His 2018 record was not too bad: 2.8 ERA all in relief. Only 1 out of 15 inherited runners scored off him. He was part of a combined no-hitter.

    The only thing mildly concerning about his performance was a relatively high number walks: 8 in 13 MLB innings. Two of these could easily have been pitch-arounds to Hosmer and Rizzo, and though he was partly responsible for the jam that set each one of those up, if they were pitch arounds, they were strategically sound and ultimately they didn't do any damage. The game logs showed that against the Cubs, he hit a guy and then gave up an infield hit, but one was cut down on a failed double steal, creating an open base that then led to an out at the plate and no runs for the inning. Against the Padres, he allowed two runners, but the open base given to Hosmer resulted from a passed ball and the situation ended in a double play with Christian Villanueva batting.

    Also mildly concerning was a reasonably minor history of surgery: he had TJ in college in 2009 and was scoped in 2017. He was on the DL when released. But he sat 91 on his last appearance for the Dodgers in June 2018 and in his last appearance with OKC on Aug 14.

    He had knee surgery after the season and vowed to return, but there's no indication he is signed now.

    I get it that there are fringe players and fringe plus players, and that a team like the Dodgers is always looking to tweak its 40 man. But the timing for cutting Adam seems pretty bizarre as cutting him left one fewer player legally available to them them for activation in the playoffs. Were the Dodgers worried that he was healing too fast and they would have to cut someone else on the 40 man?

    I get there are some Kris Bryant financial manipulations that have to be observed.

    Yet this guy would seem to be affordable yet serviceable, as he is only now arb eligible and his MLB time left him under team control until he is 36. Cutting him in a Moneyball environment contrary to the metrics seems like a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face situation.

    Is anything missing from this assessment?

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