The Mariners have signed right-hander Chris Mazza to a minor league contract, as announced by Triple-A Tacoma media relations director Paul Braverman (Twitter link). Mazza, a client of NPG Sports, has already joined the Rainiers, per Braverman..
Mazza, 32, spent the season to this point in the Rays organization, though the bulk of that time came on the 60-day injured list due to back troubles. He’d been on a minor league rehab assignment with the Rays, but at the end of his 20-day rehab window, Tampa Bay opted to reinstate Mazza and designate him for assignment rather than add him back to the big league roster. The right-hander is out of minor league options, so the Rays had to either cut him loose or carry him on the roster. Mazza went unclaimed on waivers and elected free agency last week.
This will be the second stint in the Mariners organization for Mazza, who signed a minor league deal with Seattle back in Aug. 2018. He finished out the season with their Double-A affiliate but wound up going to the Mets in the minor league phase of that year’s Rule 5 Draft.
Mazza has since spent parts of four seasons in the Majors, seeing time with the Mets, Red Sox and Rays. He’s compiled a 5.35 ERA in 79 innings, striking out batters at an 18.5% clip against a 9.2% walk rate and 36.3% grounder rate. He logged 27 1/3 innings with the Rays a year ago, pitching to a 4.61 ERA in a career-high 14 Major League appearances.
Looking past those sub-par strikeout and walk rates, Mazza has shown a repeated knack for inducing weak contact. That was truer than ever last season, when Mazza yielded just an 85.5 mph average exit velocity and a meager 29.7% hard-hit rate as a member of the Rays. He couldn’t sustain that in 2022, when he was tagged seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, though it seems fair to wonder whether he was ever pitching at full strength this season.
Regardless, Mazza will give the M’s some upper-level bullpen depth with big league experience and a solid track record in Triple-A, where he’s pitched to a 3.68 ERA with a solid 23.9% strikeout rate and a strong 7.5% walk rate in 142 career innings.