Varland was roughed up for nine runs in two-thirds of an inning Monday night against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Varland, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Los Angeles Dodgers, faced an uphill battle to make the Brewers roster out of spring having never pitched above Double-A and on a team trying to contend for a playoff spot.
But even before getting tagged by the Cardinals on Monday, Varland hadn’t been able to replicate the potential he showed in spring. The 26-year-old right-hander allowed only two runs in eight innings but had five walks and nine hits allowed with only five strikeouts.
Here is how Brewers manager Craig Counsell explained the decision.
“The difficult part about being a Rule 5 pick is that there’s just a lack of roster flexibility and that means you really have to carry your share of the load,” he said. “And the nature of that pick is that it’s somewhat of a developmental pick, and so it’s a challenging thing to be able to do for six months. And in my view, at any point, if it could affect how other people are able to do their jobs, then it’s kind of untenable in our current situation.
“And so, that’s kind of the broader picture of it. You invest a lot of time and Gus certainly showed flashes of being very capable at this level and effective at this level. but in the end, you know, I think over the long haul, I started to feel like it was going to be difficult to do that.”
The Brewers recalled reliever JB Bukauskas, whom they claimed off waivers from Seattle in April, in a corresponding move.
The good news – if it exists for Varland – is that he now goes on waivers, where any other team has the chance to claim him. And after showing the capability of retiring big-league hitters, perhaps a team with a flexible roster spot will be willing to take a chance on Varland and add him to their roster.
If Varland is claimed, he must remain on the big-league roster all year as a Rule 5 pick, just as was the case while with the Brewers. If he goes unclaimed, Varland will be offered back to the Dodgers,…