The Mariners announced a series of roster moves this afternoon. Seattle claimed catcher Jacob Nottingham off waivers from the Brewers and selected the contract of fellow backstop José Godoy. To create 40-man roster space, first baseman/corner outfielder José Marmolejos and reliever Brady Lail have been designated for assignment. Incumbent backup catcher Luis Torrens was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
It’s familiar territory for Nottingham. He played for Milwaukee from 2018-21, but the Brewers designated him for assignment last month. Seattle claimed Nottingham off waivers but designated him for assignment themselves just four days later without giving him an opportunity to get into a game. In the interim, the Brewers lost starting catcher Omar Narváez to injury, so Milwaukee quickly acquired Nottingham back for cash considerations. Now, with Narváez healthy, Nottingham found himself squeezed off the roster yet again.
Having acquired Nottingham twice in less than a month, the Seattle front office clearly has some affinity for the 26-year-old. The right-handed hitter was a decently-regarded prospect on the strength of his raw power, and he’s shown flashes of it over his first 99 MLB plate appearances, hitting .205/.293/.477 with seven homers. However, he comes with some question marks about his receiving aptitude and has struck out quite a bit at nearly every level of his pro career, including at a 38.4% clip in his brief major league time.
Nottingham is out of minor league option years, which has surely driven his recent roster shuffle. The Mariners must keep him on the MLB roster this time around or again risk losing him to another club. Optioning Torrens could suggest Seattle’s prepared to give Nottingham some run.
Acquired from the Padres as part of last summer’s Austin Nola trade, Torrens showed some offensive promise down the stretch last season. He’s gotten off to a terrible start to 2021, though, hitting .178/.219/.300 over 96 plate appearances. Torrens has also had a rough go defensively. He’s thrown out just two of 21 attempted base stealers, rated as a below-average pitch framer (per Statcast) and been behind the plate for a lofty 14 wild pitches in just 190 2/3 innings (although, to his credit, he hasn’t been charged with a passed ball). The Mariners surely hope Torrens can regain his footing on both sides of the ball in Tacoma.
Godoy began his pro career with the Cardinals organization. He spent the 2012-20 seasons in the St. Louis system, topping out at Triple-A. Godoy was at the Cards alternate training site last summer and elected minor league free agency at the end of the year. He signed a minors pact with Seattle over the winter and earned his first big league promotion with a strong start for Tacoma. All told, the 26-year-old carries a .315/.370/.481 line in 119 career Triple-A plate appearances and has hit .255/.339/.391 in parts of three seasons at Double-A.
Like Godoy, Marmolejos joined the Mariners via minor league free agency, doing so during the 2019-20 offseason. He’s picked up 209 MLB plate appearances over the past two seasons, although he didn’t do much at the plate. Marmolejos has hit just .177/.263/.355 and struck out in an alarming 30.6% of his plate appearances. Lail signed a minors pact over the winter and was selected to the MLB roster three days ago. He’s since pitched a pair of innings out of the bullpen, allowing three runs on four hits.