This marks the second time that the Mariners organization has parted ways with Bautista, although the circumstances are different. Seattle outrighted Bautista off its 40-man roster at the end of the 2020 season after he missed the year due to a flexor strain in his pitching arm, and he was able to elect free agency thereafter. He quickly returned on a new minor league deal, signing back with the Mariners just two weeks later.
That’s not the case this time around, as Bautista wasn’t on the 40-man roster and has been able to pitch this spring — but has not done so effectively. The hard-throwing 25-year-old served up three runs in 5 1/3 innings, which isn’t necessarily alarming on its own, but he did so on the strength of seven hits and six walks without recording a strikeout. Small sample or not, six walks against no strikeouts through 26 batters faced isn’t an encouraging omen for any pitcher — particularly one who punched out 27.5 percent of his opponents at the Triple-A level. Bautista came to the Mariners alongside Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz blockbuster with the Mets, and it seems he may now be destined for a new organization.
The Mariners also optioned righty Yohan Ramirez to Triple-A to begin the season after the righty accrued a full year of service in their bullpen last year. Ramirez posted a strong 2.61 ERA and whiffed 26 batters in 20 2/3 frames, so some may be a bit surprised by his demotion. However, in spite of that impressive ERA, he also issued 20 walks, plunked four hitters and tossed a pair of wild pitches. His control could clearly use some refinement, and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets that he’s also been behind after spending time away from the club due to Covid-19 protocols. Ramirez tossed just one inning in an official game this spring and, despite not yielding a hit, allowed a pair of runs on a walk, two hit batters and two wild pitches.
It’s also notable that top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert was reassigned to a minor league camp. The former first-rounder only made one Cactus League start, and given his lack of pro experience — just one full season, in 2019 — that wouldn’t have registered as much of a surprise. However, former CEO Kevin Mather suggested during the interview that led to his resignation that Gilbert wouldn’t make the Opening Day roster but would be in the Majors “by mid-April.” As such, the right-hander’s timeline to the big leagues will be interesting to monitor. He’s yet to pitch above Double-A, where he started nine games in 2019. In a total of 135 frames between Class-A, Class-A Advanced and Double-A that year, Gilbert worked to a combined 2.13 ERA with a gaudy 31.7 percent strikeout rate and a tiny 6.3 percent walk rate.