The Mets have claimed catcher/outfielder Cooper Hummel off waivers from the Mariners, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Seattle had not previously announced that Hummel was being removed from the 40-man roster. The Mets now have 32 players on their 40-man roster, while the Mariners are down to 39.
The waiver claim comes just over a year after the Mariners acquired Hummel from the D-backs in a straight-up swap for former Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis. That deal didn’t pay dividends for either party, as Lewis missed significant time with injuries before being non-tendered, while Hummel spent the bulk of his lone season with the Mariners organization in Triple-A.
Hummel appeared in just 10 big league games and tallied 26 plate appearances as a Mariner. Between that and a brief MLB debut with Arizona in 2022, he’s a .166/.264/.286 hitter in 227 trips to the plate. That said, Hummel enjoyed a strong year with Triple-A Tacoma in 2023, batting .262/.409/.435 with a mammoth 18% walk rate against a 23.3% strikeout rate. He also offers unusual defensive versatility, evidenced by more than 1800 career innings in left field, 1054 innings behind the plate, 508 innings at first base and 296 innings in right field. Hummel has a minor league option remaining as well, so he can be stashed in Syracuse without needing to first pass through waivers.
The 29-year-old Hummel was an 18th-round draft pick of the Brewers back in 2016, when current Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns was running baseball operations in Milwaukee. Stearns traded Hummel to the D-backs in a 2021 swap that netted infielder Eduardo Escobar, and he’s now reacquired the versatile catcher/outfielder as one of his first transactions with his new club.
It’s another in a growing series of small-scale depth pickups. Stearns has added Hummel, and infielder Zack Short via waivers while signing free agents Luis Severino, Joey Wendle and Austin Adams to one-year Major League contracts (a nonguaranteed split deal, in the case of Adams). He’s also inked righties Cole Sulser and Kyle Crick to minor league deals this week.
Many Mets fans had visions of larger dealings when owner Steve Cohen finally landed Stearns after years of coveting the former Milwaukee baseball operations leader and have instead voiced frustration at depth moves such as this one. However, the offseason is a marathon and the majority of the major names on the free agent and trade markets alike remain available. Beyond that, the Mets had a whopping 12 vacancies on the 40-man roster not long ago and have been burned by a lack of depth on the pitching front in recent years. The headline-grabbing moves for Mets fans figure to surface as the offseason wears on, but Stearns’ Brewers were also known for aggressively operating around the margins of the 40-man roster and that tendency will likely carry over to his still-nascent tenure in Queens.