The Mariners have agreed to bring righty Asher Wojciechowski back to the organization on a minor league contract, per their official transactions log. The journeyman starter signed on with the M’s on a minor league deal back in July but didn’t get a call to the big leagues. He subsequently became a minor league free agent at season’s end, thus allowing him to sign a minor league deal this offseason.
Wojciechowski, 33, has seen action in parts of five big league seasons, including in each of the past three. He appeared in just one game with the 2021 Yankees, allowing a pair of runs over four innings in a spot start, but was a fairly consistent presence with the Orioles in 2019-20. Baltimore originally acquired Wojciechowski from Cleveland in a cash deal back in 2019, and it looked as though he might simply make a spot start or two at the time of the swap.
Instead, Wojciechowski pitched well enough to quickly grab a spot in a patchwork O’s rotation. He worked to a 3.60 ERA in his first 30 innings, providing the Orioles plenty of reason to give him some leash from there on. Overall, while Wojciechowski didn’t exactly dominate, he gave an Orioles roster that was desperate for pitching a total of 82 1/3 innings of 4.92 ERA ball from July 2 through season’s end.
That proved enough for the O’s to keep Wojciechowski on the 40-man roster all winter, and he headed into the shortened 2020 season with a rotation spot. He continued to hold his own through the first four starts of the 2020 season, but after a swift decline — 19 runs over his next 18 1/3 frames — Wojciechowski was designated for assignment and passed through outright waivers.
Overall, Wojciechowski has 202 innings at the big league level, albeit with an unsightly 5.93 ERA to show for it. He’s fanned a respectable 21.9% of his opponents and posted a better-than-average 7.9% walk rate, but Wojciechowski is also an extreme fly-ball pitcher who’s shown a proclivity for surrendering the long ball. Most of his big time in the Majors has been spent in homer-friendly home parks — Houston, Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Bronx — so if he makes it to Seattle, perhaps T-Mobile Park could help to slightly reduce that problem. Still, with an average of 2.0 homers per nine innings pitched, Wojciechowski’s struggles go beyond the dimensions of his home parks.
As things stand, Wojciechowski is a pure depth option for the M’s. Seattle inked reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to lead its staff in 2022 and beyond. He’ll be followed by stalwart southpaw Marco Gonzales, promising sophomore Logan Gilbert and righty Chris Flexen — a KBO reclamation project that has turned into a resound success for the M’s. Former top prospects Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn could factor into the mix as well, but the general expectation is that the Mariners will add another veteran to round out the rotation in the days and weeks coming out of the lockout.
Wojciechowski isn’t likely to emerge as an option unless the Mariners incur several injuries, but as far as depth options go, a well-traveled veteran with a 4.33 ERA in 664 2/3 Triple-A innings is a solid one to have on hand.