Source: Smoltz declines minors option

John Smoltz, designated for assignment by the Red Sox after his meltdown against the Yankees last week, has refused an option to the minor leagues, a source told ESPN's Peter Gammons.

The next step is Boston's: The Red Sox can trade him, because Smoltz has cleared waivers, or they can simply release him.

According to ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, there appear to be several National League teams interested in getting Smoltz, who was designated Aug. 7.

However, those interested, including the Texas Rangers, also likely would want the Red Sox to share the financial burden of his contract.

If the Red Sox cut Smoltz, whatever team deciding to acquire him would be on the hook for the pro-rated amount of the major league minimum. In addition, Smoltz, 42, would get the rest of his $5.5 million salary from the Red Sox.

The Red Sox had indicated they would like to keep him, but in a relief role, and that likely would necessitate a trip to the minors. They also would like him to restructure a clause in his contract that allows him to make $35,000 for each day he is on the major league roster, above and beyond his base salary.

Smoltz signed with the Red Sox in January, hoping he could recover from surgery on his right shoulder. After eight starts, Smoltz was 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA. That includes a miserable outing Aug. 6 against the Yankees, when he gave up eight runs on nine hits and four walks in just 3 1/3 innings.

Peter Gammons and Buster Olney are baseball reporters for ESPN.