Braden, Devine pick free agency over assignment

Braden, Devine pick free agency over assignment

Left-hander Dallas Braden and righty Joey Devine, who have both undergone two arm surgeries in the past three years, cleared outright waivers on Tuesday and elected to become free agents rather than accept an assignment from the A's to Triple-A Sacramento.

The news isn't much of a surprise, considering the pitchers' injury-prone pasts, yet it doesn't prevent either from re-signing with the A's, who could work out a one-year contract -- or even a Minor League deal -- with either pitcher.

Braden, selected by the A's in the 24th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, missed the entire 2012 season, continuing his rehab from a 2011 surgery that repaired a torn capsule in his left shoulder. He underwent a second procedure in August to repair his left rotator cuff. The 29-year-old lefty isn't expected to be able to pitch again until the second half of the 2013 season.

With that timetable in mind, Braden isn't likely to receive much interest from other clubs, making the A's the favorite to sign him, should they choose to bring him back. The southpaw has long expressed his desire to stay in Oakland, especially given the proximity to his home in Stockton, Calif.

Braden could seemingly take his time rehabbing in the Minors if he agrees to a Minor League deal with the A's, then provide depth as an experienced lefty down the stretch once healthy.

In 94 career appearances with Oakland, including 79 starts, Braden is 26-36 with a 4.16 ERA. He enjoyed his best season in 2010, when he authored Major League Baseball's 19th perfect game and logged 192 2/3 innings spanning 30 starts -- all career highs -- while posting a 3.50 ERA.

Like Braden, Devine also missed all of the 2012 season, having undergone his second Tommy John surgery on April 10 -- 11 days short of the second anniversary of his first procedure, which forced him to miss the 2009 and '10 seasons.

Not only was there a tear in Devine's right ulnar collateral ligament, necessitating the second operation, but surgeon James Andrews also had to monitor the debridement of the flexor tendon and repair damage to the ulnar nerve, which was covered in scar tissue.

Devine, a first-round Draft pick of the Braves in 2005, has made just 26 big league appearances since his first elbow surgery. Overall, the 29-year-old reliever owns a 2.75 ERA in 93 career appearances, including a 1.57 ERA in 68 games across two seasons with the A's, who aren't likely to make a strong attempt at re-signing the reliever.

"I'm just going to let everything unfold as it may," Devine told MLB.com. "I do, however, think a fresh start would be best for me and my family."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.