"We'd rather tell him earlier rather than later to try to let him find a job," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Just because we have other guys in our opinion ahead of him in this camp doesn't mean he can't pitch. It's not a fun meeting for anybody, especially him. We get that.
"We appreciated the way he handled himself. It makes those meetings harder."
Aardsma, 32, signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland on Jan. 23 and came into camp as a non-roster invitee this spring. In six Cactus League innings, the right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts against no walks.
In parts of eight seasons in the Majors, Aardsma has a 4.23 ERA with 305 strikeouts and 169 walks in 298 games among stints with the Giants, Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Mariners, Yankees and Mets. Last year, Aardsma posted a 4.31 ERA in 43 appearances for the Mets.
The Indians needed to make a decision on Aardsma before Tuesday because the pitcher was one of three players in camp (Aaron Harang and Jason Giambi being the others) who qualified for a $100,000 retention bonus if not on the Opening Day roster. Six-year free agents who sign a Minor League deal after ending the previous season on a Major League contract are eligible.
By asking for his release, Aardsma forfeited the ability to obtain the bonus.
"We had informed him that, with where we are right now," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said, "there were other guys in the bullpen that slotted ahead of him. So, rather than wait and play it out, we were amenable to giving him his release at this point."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.