March 23: Tuivailala has cleared release waivers and is now a free agent, Divish tweets.
March 20: The Mariners have placed reliever Sam Tuivailala on release waivers, per a club announcement. That leaves the team with two 40-man roster openings.
Tuivailala was looking to turn in a full season after a torn Achilles shortened both his 2018 and 2019 campaigns. He hadn’t yet appeared in a spring contest when activities were halted.
Over the offseason, the M’s agreed to a $800K arbitration deal with Tuivailala. He’ll still be entitled to 45 days of termination pay, at least in theory. Just how that will be handled given the delay and near-certain shortening of the 2020 season remains to be seen.
Tuivailala, 27, has mostly been quite effective in his MLB career. Through 127 innings, he carries a 3.33 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. He enjoyed some strong results upon his return in 2019, allowing just six earned runs on 13 hits with a 27:11 K/BB ratio.
In his return last year, Tuivailala delivered his fastballs (four and two-seam) more than two miles an hour slower on average than he had previously. But he still sat just under 94 mph. This spring, however Tuivailala had been limited by shoulder fatigue. When last he took the mound, the hurler was working only in the mid- to upper-80s with his fastball, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). That lack off velocity and ongoing concerns surrounding his shoulder quite likely were the primary factors behind the Mariners’ decision.