The Mariners announced they have claimed left-hander Gabe Speier off waivers from the Royals. Additionally, they have outrighted lefty Ryan Borucki and right-hander Casey Sadler.
Speier has appeared in each of the last four seasons with the Royals. He hasn’t gotten an extended look over any part of that stretch. This year’s 17 appearances and 19 1/3 innings were career highs, and he’s worked a cumulative 40 innings. Speier has a 3.83 ERA, and his 20.2% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk percentage are right around average.
A former Red Sox draftee, Speier averages around 94 MPH on his sinker but leaned more heavily on his slider. He’s only managed a 6.67 ERA across 112 innings at the Triple-A level, thanks largely to a dismal 14.51 mark over 26 2/3 innings with Omaha this year. Speier was battered for 51 hits and 11 home runs in that stretch, but the M’s will take a shot on a change of scenery. The 27-year-old still has an option year remaining, so the M’s can move him between Seattle and Triple-A Tacoma next year if he holds his spot on the 40-man roster.
Borucki is squeezed off the depth chart in his place. The M’s acquired the southpaw from the Blue Jays this year. The 28-year-old combined for a 5.68 ERA over 25 1/3 innings with the two clubs, only striking out 18.9% of batters faced while struggling to keep the ball in the yard. He was projected for a $1.1MM salary if tendered an arbitration contract, but the M’s evidently determined they weren’t prepared to pay that sum.
Parting with Sadler is a bit more surprising, as the righty was excellent during his last healthy season. He posted a microscopic 0.67 ERA over 40 1/3 innings for the M’s in 2021. He punched out an above-average 25.5% of batters faced and racked up grounders on over three-fifths of batted balls against him. Sadler looked like a high-leverage weapon, but he didn’t pitch in 2022 after undergoing shoulder surgery in Spring Training.
Seattle could’ve retained the 32-year-old by tendering him an arbitration contract, which was projected in the $1.025MM range. They evidently determined not to carry him on the 40-man roster all winter given the injury, and no other club placed a waiver claim despite the chance to retain him at that modest rate.
Both Borucki and Sadler are eligible for minor league free agency, and it’s a virtual lock they’ll each hit the open market in the next few days. Both will serve as experienced depth options for clubs seeking bullpen help, although Sadler may have to demonstrate his health for suitors.