August 11: The Mariners announced today that Muckenhirn cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma.
August 9: The Mariners have officially selected the contract of prospect Emerson Hancock, a move that was reported yesterday. In corresponding transactions, the M’s optioned right-hander Devin Sweet to Triple-A and designated left-hander Zach Muckenhirn for assignment.
Muckenhirn, 28, made his major league debut with the Mets earlier this year, tossing six innings over three appearances with four earned runs allowed. He was designated for assignment in July and then promptly traded to the Mariners as part of the deal that sent Trevor Gott and Chris Flexen to Queens. Flexen was released by the Mets shortly thereafter, highlighting the fact that they were taking on Flexen’s contract in order to effectively buy Gott.
The M’s saved some money in that deal but also added Muckenhirn to their system, sending him to Triple-A Tacoma. He’s thrown 8 2/3 innings for that club with a 9.35 ERA in that small sample, which likely helped loosen his grip on a roster spot. But he had a much more palatable 0.88 ERA in 30 2/3 innings for the Syracuse Mets prior to the trade, giving him a combined 2.75 ERA at Triple-A this year. He’s only struck out 14.8% of opponents at that level but has kept the ball on the ground on close to half of the balls in play he’s allowed.
With the trade deadline now in the rear-view mirror, the M’s will have a week to put Muckenhirn on outright waivers or release waivers. Left-handed relief tends to always be in demand and Muckenhirn can serve as a long-term depth option since he has just a few days of service time and a full slate of options. His strikeouts haven’t been there this year but he punched out 23.8% of minor league hitters last season, in addition to consistently solid ground ball rates.
If the lefty were to pass through waivers unclaimed, he would stick with the M’s since he lacks the necessary service time or previous career outright that’s necessary for the right to elect free agency. But if he’s still not on the roster at season’s end, he would qualify for minor league free agency.