2:55pm: In addition to Long, the Mariners announced that infielder/outfielder Sam Haggerty, righty Darren McCaughan, outfielder Marcus Wilson and righty Ryan Weber were all outrighted from the roster. Weber was able to immediately declare free agency, as this is the second outright of his career. Long and Wilson will be free agents after the postseason concludes.
Haggerty had a nice season in 2020, but in a limited sample of just 13 games and 54 plate appearances. In 2021, he got to the plate 94 times but produced a meager .186/.247/.291 line, then went on the IL at the end of May with a shoulder injury but never returned. He’ll now look to get back to health and regular playing time in the minors in order to earn his way back to the bigs.
McCaughan made his major league debut this season but only got into two games. In Triple-A, he logged 115 1/3 innings over 20 starts with an ERA of 4.53. His strikeout rate was subpar at 20.9% but his walk rate was an excellent 3.6%. He’ll remain in the organization as depth.
Wilson was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox in August but was stashed in Triple-A and has yet to make it to the show. Between the two organizations, he got 437 Triple-A plate appearances in 2021, slashing .240/.364/.421 for a wRC+ of 110.
Weber is the most experienced of the bunch, with 167 big league innings to his name, with an ERA of 5.28. In 2021, he bounced between Boston, Milwaukee and Seattle but got the most action with Tacoma, Seattle’s Triple-A team. He logged 60 1/3 innings there over 10 starts, with an ERA of 3.58, strikeout rate of 25.1% and miniscule walk rate of 0.9%.
2:05pm: Long underwent a second surgery to repair the stress reaction in his shin last week, agent Nate Heisler tells Divish (Twitter link). The bone is expected to be healed over in one to two months’ time, which should afford Long enough time to be ready for Spring Training.
1:52pm: The Mariners are performing some early roster maintenance in advance of the offseason and are set to announce that infielder/outfielder Shed Long Jr. has been outrighted from the 40-man roster, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). That he’s being assigned outright off the roster means he’s already cleared waivers, and Long will now be able to become a free agent this offseason.
It’s been a tough couple of seasons for the 26-year-old Long, whom Seattle acquired in the three-team swap that sent Sonny Gray from the Yankees to the Reds and outfield prospect Josh Stowers from Seattle to New York. Long played much of last season through a stress fracture in his leg before ultimately undergoing season-ending surgery. The detrimental impact of that injury lingered into 2021, ending his season on Aug. 2 and helping to limit Long to just 34 games and 121 plate appearances at the MLB level.
At the time of his acquisition, Long was a well-regarded prospect seen as a potential everyday option for Seattle at second base or perhaps in left field. He looked the part of a possible regular in his rookie campaign in ’19, posting a .263/.333/.454 batting line with five homers, a dozen doubles, a triple and three steals through 168 trips to the plate. Unfortunately, in the two years since, he’s cobbled together a paltry .184/.250/.325 output through 249 plate appearances while struggling through that pair of leg injuries.
While Long was sidelined, the ever-active Mariners front office, led by president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, acquired a slew of players who have now left Long as something of an odd man out in the organization. Abraham Toro and Ty France are getting regular at-bats in the infield, while the future outlook in the outfield is quite promising with Mitch Haniger, 2020 Rooke of the Year Kyle Lewis, Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Taylor Trammell and Jake Fraley all in the mix. The Mariners are also expected to further add to that infield mix this winter, perhaps in significant fashion, as the team looks to turn the final corner and emerge from an abbreviated rebuilding process on the heels of a surprising 90-win season
Long will hit the free-agent market at just 26 years of age and search for a new opportunity with an organization that can offer a clearer path to playing time. He’ll still have a minor league option remaining in 2022, but the fact that he went unclaimed on waivers could well mean that Long is ticketed for a minor league pact in free agency.