Mariners corner infielder Ryon Healy and outfielder Keon Broxton both elected free agency rather than accept an outright assignment, the team announced. Both players went unclaimed on waivers and will be free to sign with any club this winter.
Healy, 28 in January, underwent August hip surgery that was expected to sideline him for four to six months. That makes the decision to outright him all the more understandable, though he’d have been at risk even if he were healthy. The OBP-challenged slugger spent two seasons in Seattle but managed just a .236/.280/.423 batting line with 31 home runs in 711 trips to the plate after being traded to the A’s in a now-regrettable deal for righty Emilio Pagan. (Oakland also cut bait on Pagan and traded him to Tampa Bay, where he blossomed into one of the league’s best relievers in 2019.)
A clear timetable on Healy’s return to baseball activities isn’t known, but he could draw interest from clubs looking for some right-handed pop this winter. Healy doesn’t walk often (just 4.7 percent of the time) but also doesn’t strikeout at an egregious rate (22.2 percent in his career). He has experience at both infield corners but is best-suited for first base/designated hitter work, making him a bit redundant for a Mariners team that has Daniel Vogelbach on the big league roster and first base prospect Evan White looming in the upper minors.
The 29-year-old Broxton, meanwhile, played on three different teams this season but couldn’t find success with the Mets, Orioles or Mariners. Broxton turned some heads with the Brewers back in 2016-17 when he showed an intriguing blend power, speed and center field defense while hitting .227/.318/.424 (including a 20-20 campaign in 2017). But strikeouts have been an enormous issue for Broxton, who punched out in an astonishing 45.6 percent of his 228 plate appearances this past season. Given that lack of contact, his ensuing .167/.242/.275 slash is hardly surprising.
Broxton has 17 Defensive Runs Saved, a 9.6 Ultimate Zone Rating and rates in at a whopping 34 Outs Above Average, per Statcast, over the past four MLB seasons. There’s little doubt that his glove is outstanding, but his 61.4 percent contact rate is the second-lowest among all MLB hitters in that same span.