Seattle Mariners – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-01-23T17:23:37Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Report: Mariners Haven't Approached Walker With "Serious" Offer]]> 2021-01-22T20:15:58Z 2021-01-22T20:14:10Z
  • The Mariners have yet to approach right-hander Taijuan Walker with a serious offer to bring him back to the organization, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. At the time of Walker’s trade to the Blue Jays over the summer, Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto suggested that he might look to bring the righty back to the team in the near future (Twitter link via Jessamyn McIntyre). That has yet to happen, it seems, although it’s also worth noting that Divish reported earlier in the week that Mariners ownership has limited the front office’s payroll flexibility “more than expected” this winter. The Mariners may yet add another arm to the rotation mix, but depending on the extent to which spending is limited, a multi-year deal candidate like Walker might be out of reach.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Notes: Payroll, Flexen, Bullpen, Haniger]]> 2021-01-21T22:54:49Z 2021-01-21T22:54:49Z The Mariners have just $51.5MM committed to 11 players for the upcoming season and are just shy of $14MM in guaranteed contracts on the books come 2022. (They also owe the D-backs $5MM this year as part of the Mike Leake trade.) Despite their wide-open payroll outlook, however, they haven’t been major players in free agency. That, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, is due in part to ownership placing unexpected limitations on the team’s spending this winter. Divish cites multiple sources in indicating that the current limitations are being put into place with an eye toward spending next winter, when the free-agent class is deeper and when the club has even fewer commitments on the books.

    There’s still an argument to be made that the Mariners should still jump the market, given the remaining slate of appealing free agents and the seemingly limited market for some of the leading names. General manager Jerry Dipoto reiterated to reporters this week, after all, that competing for a playoff berth is something the club hopes to be possible. Adding even some mid-tier free agents could go a long way toward making that a reality, given the context of the AL West, but it doesn’t sound as though any major expenditures are in the offing at this time.

    A few notes from Divish, 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer, and The Athletic’s Corey Brock after Dipoto’s media availability this week…

    • Newly signed right-hander Chris Flexen will be penciled into the Mariners’ rotation to begin the season, Dipoto revealed this week. Far from a household name, the 26-year-old Flexen was an up-and-down member of the Mets from 2017-19 before posting a dominant season with the Korea Baseball Organization’s Doosan Bears in 2020. The righty tossed 116 2/3 innings of 3.01 ERA ball, striking out 28 percent of his opponents against just a 6.4 percent walk rate. Flexen’s 21-start workload figures to be extra vital to the Mariners, given that most MLB pitchers were limited to around half that many starts. Seattle again plans to use a six-man rotation in 2021, per Dipoto. Drayer notes that the GM is “open” to adding another starter, with only four spots locked in right now (Flexen, Marco Gonzales, Justus Sheffield and Yusei Kikuchi).
    • Brock notes that right-hander Rafael Montero, acquired earlier this month in a trade with the Rangers, is the current favorite to open the season as the Mariners’ closer. Like Flexen, Montero is a former Mets prospect — a far more well-regarded one, having ranked among the game’s top 100 at one point — who didn’t find his footing in New York but has found success elsewhere. After missing a season due to Tommy John surgery, Montero landed in Texas on a minor league pact and returned to the big leagues to toss 46 2/3 innings of 3.09 ERA (3.34 SIERA) ball from 2019-20. Averaging a career-best 95.6 mph on his heater as a Ranger, Montero posted a 28.6 percent strikeout rate and a 5.9 percent walk rate. He’s controlled another two years and will give the Mariners a power option to lock things down.
    • “We continue to be connected to free agents we think can make us better, and specifically we would like to add a little bit more depth to that bullpen, if that’s possible,” Dipoto said (via Divish). There’s no clear indication of the number at which ownership has capped payroll, so the extent of the Mariners’ free-agent targets is a bit tough to gauge.’s Jon Morosi reported earlier this week that the M’s are interested in veteran Joakim Soria, although he’s presumably just one of many potential targets.
    • In some good news on the injury front, the Mariners expect right fielder Mitch Haniger to be ready to take the field when camp opens. Dipoto noted that a healthy Haniger is the team’s “best player,” adding that he looks “terrific physically.” It’s been a brutal road of freak injuries for Haniger, whose health woes began in 2019 when he sustained a ruptured testicle due to a terribly placed foul ball. Haniger required surgery to address that injury, and while he began a rehab assignment two months later, he was quickly shut down due to back discomfort. As it turned out, Haniger tore an adductor muscle off the bone during that rehab stint, leading to subsequent core muscle and microdiscectomy surgeries. If he is indeed able to suit up to begin the year, it’ll mark a nearly two-year road back to the Mariners’ big league roster. The now-30-year-old Haniger appeared on the cusp of stardom for the Mariners as recently as 2018, when he made the All-Star team and slashed .285/.366/.493 with 26 home runs, 38 doubles, four triples, eight steals (in ten tries) and 10 Defensive Runs Saved in right field.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners Interested In Joakim Soria]]> 2021-01-18T05:32:11Z 2021-01-18T05:32:11Z The Mariners are the latest team to show interest in free agent reliever Joakim Soria, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets.  Seattle joins the Twins, Blue Jays, and all four of the Mariners’ AL West rivals as teams linked to Soria’s market at some point during the offseason.

    Naturally, the entire AL West got a good look at Soria when he pitched for the Athletics in 2019-20, and the amount of  interest isn’t surprising considering how Soria has continued to deliver results as he approaches his age-37 season.  Soria posted a 2.82 ERA over 22 1/3 innings in 2020 and did a very good job of keeping the ball in the park (one home run allowed) and limiting hard contact (particularly in terms of barrel percentage).  On the flip side, Soria’s 25K% was middle of the pack, his 10.4 BB% ranked only in the 31st percentile, and his 4.36 SIERA painted a much less impressive picture than his ERA.

    Still, even with some expected regression baked in, Soria’s track record of durability is solid enough that a team can expect him to be a positive addition to a bullpen.  Soria worked in a setup role in Oakland and would likely assume similar duties on his next team — though it has been some time since his heyday as a closer with the Royals, Soria could also be called upon for the occasional save opportunity if need be.

    The bullpen has been more or less the primary focus of the Mariners’ offseason thus far, as the M’s have acquired Rafael Montero from the Rangers, signed Keynan Middleton, and re-signed Kendall Graveman.  Adding Soria would add an even more experienced and durable relief arm to the mix, perhaps a wise investment considering that Montero, Middleton, and Graveman have all undergone Tommy John surgery within the last three years.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 1/15/21]]> 2021-01-16T03:42:52Z 2021-01-15T16:51:22Z The deadline to exchange arbitration figures is today at 1pm ET. As of this morning, there were 125 arbitration-eligible players who’d yet to agree to terms on their contract for the upcoming 2021 season. Arbitration is muddier than ever before thanks to the shortened 2020 schedule, which most believe will lead to record number of arb hearings this winter. Be that as it may, it’s still reasonable to expect dozens of contractual agreements to filter in over the next couple of hours.

    We’ll highlight some of the more high-profile cases in separate posts with more in-depth breakdowns, but the majority of today’s dealings will be smaller-scale increases that don’t radically alter a team’s payroll or a player’s trade candidacy. As such, we’ll just run through most of today’s agreements in this post.

    I’ve embedded MLBTR’s 2021 Arbitration Tracker in the post (those in the mobile app or viewing on mobile web will want to turn their phones sideways). Our tracker can be sorted by team, by service time and/or by Super Two status, allowing users to check the status on whichever groups of players they like. You can also check out Matt Swartz’s projected arbitration salaries for this year’s class, and we’ll do a quick sentence on each player’s agreement at the bottom of this post as well, with the most recent agreements sitting atop the list.

    Today’s Agreements (chronologically, newest to oldest)

    Read more

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/13/21]]> 2021-01-14T02:29:16Z 2021-01-14T02:29:16Z Let’s catch up on the latest minor moves from around the game …

    • Right-hander Branden Kline announced his retirement Wednesday on Instagram. Kline, a hard-throwing Maryland native, joined the Orioles as a second-round pick in 2012 and ranked as one of their most promising prospects early in his career. But four arm surgeries, including the Tommy John procedure Kline underwent in 2015, slowed him, and his injury issues kept him out of minor league action until 2018. Kline did rebound well enough to appear majors from 2019-20, pitching to a 5.48 ERA with a 20.2 strikeout percentage and a 10.8 walk percentage in 46 innings, but the Orioles outrighted him last fall.
    • If Kline’s retirement came surprisingly early, the opposite might be said of former MLB righty Manny Corpas. Panamanian journalist Aurelio Ortiz conveys Corpas’s decision to hang up his spikes, via Twitter. Though he’s far removed from his time in the majors — he last appeared in 2013 — the 38-year-old has until now continued to ply his trade in the indy ball and international ranks. Corpas wraps up his career with 374 1/3 frames of 4.14 ERA pitching at the game’s highest level.
    • Corner outfielder Dillon Thomas has an agreement with the Mariners, per Robert Murray of Fansided (Twitter link). The minor-league accord includes an invitation to participate in MLB Spring Training. Thomas, 28, is a former fourth-round pick who has only briefly reached the highest level of the minors. In 2019, he turned in a .265/.339/.434 slash over 504 Double-A plate appearances.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mariners Hire Hisashi Iwakuma As Special Assignment Coach]]> 2021-01-13T03:31:58Z 2021-01-13T03:31:11Z Former Mariners right-hander Hisahi Iwakuma is rejoining the franchise in a new position. The Mariners announced Tuesday that they have hired Iwakuma as a special assignment coach. He’ll report to general manager Jerry Dipoto.

    “In his new role, Iwakuma will work with Mariners pitchers and pitching instructors at all levels,” the team explained. “He will periodically visit the team’s minor league affiliates during the season, as well as spending time with the Major League team.” Additionally, Iwakuma will assist Mariners scout Manabu Noto in his homeland of Japan.

    Based on his decorated playing career in Japan and in Seattle, the well-respected Iwakuma should have plenty to offer as a coach. Now 39 years old, Iwakuma excelled in Japan for over a decade before joining the Mariners in 2012. The union worked out beautifully for both sides, as Iwakuma wound up pitching his entire major league run with the M’s (through 2017). He recorded a 3.42 ERA in 883 2/3 innings, earned an All-Star nod and threw a no-hitter along the way.

    While Iwakuma did continue trying to pitch after 2017, injuries hampered his efforts. He threw just two innings in a return to Japan in 2019 and didn’t take the mound at all last year. Iwakuma then decided to retire.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mariners Sign Roenis Elias, Paul Sewald To Minor League Deals]]> 2021-01-08T03:14:37Z 2021-01-08T03:14:37Z The Mariners announced that they have signed left-hander Roenis Elias, righty Paul Sewald and infielder Jantzen Witte to minor league contracts.

    This will be the third Mariners stint for Elias, who was previously with the team from 2014-15 and again from 2018-19. Formerly a starter, the 32-year-old has put up a 3.75 ERA over 377 innings in Seattle to this point. He has also taken the mound for the Red Sox and Nationals, though Elias has not pitched in the majors since 2019, owing in part to a flexor strain he suffered last season. Overall, Elias has logged a 3.97 ERA with a strikeout percentage of 19.7 and a walk percentage of 9.0 during his 388-inning big league career.

    Sewald spent the first four seasons of his MLB tenure as a Met, but the 30-year-old struggled to a 5.50 ERA in 147 1/3 frames during that span. Witte, 31, has not played in the majors yet. The former Red Sox farmhand took 1,227 plate appearances at the Triple-A level for them and hit .261/.333/.370.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Sign Jimmy Yacabonis To Minor League Deal]]> 2020-12-30T15:46:17Z 2020-12-30T15:46:17Z The Mariners are in agreement on a minor league deal with right-handed reliever Jimmy Yacabonis, per an announcement from the team’s player development department.

    Yacabonis, 28, tossed 2 1/3 innings for the Mariners in 2020 before being dropped from the 40-man roster in mid-September. He’d opened the season in the Padres’ 60-man player pool but was traded to Seattle for cash in mid-August.

    The 2020 season marked Yacabonis’ first big league experience outside of Baltimore. The former 13th-round pick pitched extensively out of the Orioles’ bullpen each season from 2017-19 but struggled to a 5.75 ERA through 101 2/3 frames. Yacabonis doesn’t have much of a big league track record, but he gets well above-average movement on his pitches, which has been enough to pique the interest of several clubs. He also has solid velocity and above-average spin on his four-seamer, although he scrapped that pitch entirely in favor of a sinker during his brief 2020 showing with the Mariners. He’ll likely head to Triple-A Tacoma to open the season and give the M’s some depth should a need arise.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Managers & Top Front Office Executives On Expiring Contracts]]> 2020-12-27T14:11:27Z 2020-12-27T02:28:41Z A unique set of challenges faced anyone running a Major League franchise in 2020, between dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and then the difficulties involved in playing games during the delayed-then-shortened season.  Nevertheless, it seemed like only a certain amount of slack was granted the sport’s managers and front office leaders (whether that top title was president of baseball operations, general manager, chief baseball officer, etc.) through the turbulent year, as we still saw a number of teams make changes either in the dugout or at the top of the baseball ops department.

    As such, it’s fair to assume that a “normal” amount of pressure to put a winning — or championship-winning — team on the field will be the same in 2021 as in any usual season, even if 2021 is already looking it may have its own share of abnormality.  That means that for managers and executives heading into the last guaranteed year of their contracts, job security will likely be on the line in the coming months.

    Thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for information on the various contractual details of team personnel, though this list may not be complete.  Some teams don’t publicly reveal contract lengths of managers or front office execs, so it’s possible some of these names might be locked up beyond 2021 whether due to the original terms of their current deals or due to extensions that haven’t been announced.

    Astros: Originally signed to a one-year deal with a club option for 2021, Dusty Baker saw Houston exercise that option last summer, lining Baker up for his 24th season running a Major League dugout.  Recent comments from Baker indicate that the 71-year-old is taking something of a year-by-year approach to his future, though if the Astros again reach the postseason, one would imagine the team would certainly have interest in retaining Baker for 2022.  A longer-term extension seems unlikely, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if at least another club option (or even a mutual option) was tacked onto Baker’s deal to give both sides some flexibility going forward.

    Athletics: While major postseason success continues to elude the team, Oakland has reached the playoffs in each of the last three years.  This makes six postseason appearances for Melvin in 10 years managing the A’s, and it seems likely the team will discuss another extension for Melvin as he enters the final year of his current contract.  While Billy Beane’s possible departure would naturally have a major impact on the Athletics, the likelihood of longtime executive and current GM David Forst taking over the baseball operations department would probably mean that Melvin would be welcomed back.

    Blue Jays: Charlie Montoyo is entering the last guaranteed year of his original three-year contract, and the Jays hold a club option on Montoyo’s services for 2022.  That option could be exercised to give Montoyo a bit more security as a reward for leading Toronto to the playoffs last year, though expectations are certainly higher for the 2021 team.  It should also be noted that there hasn’t yet been any official confirmation that president/CEO Mark Shapiro has signed a new contract with the team after his five-year deal ran out after last season, but last October, Shapiro seemed to imply that a new deal was all but complete.

    Braves: After going from interim manager to full-time manager following the 2016 season, Brian Snitker has twice been signed to extensions — most recently last February, when Atlanta turned its 2021 club option on Snitker into a guaranteed year.  Snitker has led the Braves to three straight NL East titles and the team fell one game shy of the NL pennant last October, so Snitker seems like a prime candidate for another extension prior to Opening Day.

    Diamondbacks: 2020 was an overall disappointing year for a D’Backs team that was aiming for the postseason, but team president/CEO Derrick Hall indicated that the organization wasn’t planning to make any wholesale changes due to the season’s unusual nature.  This bodes well for manager Torey Lovullo as he enters the last year of his contract, and it seems possible Arizona could add another year to Lovullo’s deal just so he can avoid lame-duck status.

    Mariners: Both GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais were in the final year of their contracts when both inked extensions with Seattle in July 2018.  The terms of those extensions weren’t known, but 2021 would be the final guaranteed year for both if the extensions were three-year deals like their original contracts, though it’s possible Dipoto and Servais each got more security than just a three-year pact.  The Mariners have mostly been in rebuild mode since those extensions were signed, and with the team only starting to deliver on some of the young talent amassed in the farm system, ownership could give Dipoto (and quite possibly Servais) more time to see if they can finally get the M’s back to the playoffs.  Considering the previous extensions weren’t announced until midseason, we might not know Dipoto/Servais’ fate for some time — and if the Mariners get off to a particularly disappointing start, changes might be in the offing.

    Marlins: One of few holdovers from Jeffrey Loria’s ownership, Don Mattingly was signed to a two-year extension following the 2019 season that contained a club option for 2022.  The young Marlins reached the postseason last season, so Mattingly has a good case to at least get his option exercised at some point this year, and another extension could well be discussed if CEO Derek Jeter and GM Kim Ng are satisfied with the team’s progress.  It can’t hurt that Ng knows Mattingly well from her past days an assistant general manager with the Yankees and Dodgers.

    Mets: The winds of change have swept through the Mets organization this winter, yet Luis Rojas wasn’t affected, as team president Sandy Alderson announced that Rojas will remain in the dugout for 2021.  Making the move from quality control coach to manager after Carlos Beltran’s quick resignation last winter, Rojas signed a two-year deal with club options for both 2022 and 2023.  Expectations are definitely higher for Rojas under the Steve Cohen regime, but given all of the tumult of the 2020 season, Cohen and Alderson (plus newly-hired GM Jared Porter) seem interested in seeing what they actually have in Rojas before deciding on whether a new manager is required.

    Orioles: According to The Athletic’s Dan Connolly, “one industry source said it’s believed” that 2021 is the last guaranteed year of manager Brandon Hyde’s contract, with the club possibly holding a club option for 2022.  For that matter, executive VP/general manager Mike Elias didn’t have his contract terms revealed when he was hired in November 2018, so he could also be in his final guaranteed year if he hired Hyde on a similar timeline to his own deal.  It doesn’t seem like a change is coming in either the front office or the dugout, as the Orioles are still at least a couple of years away from coming out of a complete rebuild.  (Connolly makes the case that Hyde should be retained, as Hyde has had little to work with as manager and deserves a chance to steward an actual competitive roster.)

    Rangers: Chris Woodward is entering the last guaranteed year of his deal, with the Rangers holding a club option for 2022.  Woodward has a 100-122 record over his first two years in the Texas dugout, and since the team is looking to get younger in 2021, it doesn’t seem like an immediate return to contention is in the cards.  If it’ll be a year or two until the Rangers are done with what seems like a mini-rebuild, it’s possible the team might decide to hire a new manager to herald them into something of a new era.  Woodward may have to prove himself anew by shepherding this younger talent and keeping the Rangers as competitive as possible while they shuffle the roster.

    Rays: Erik Neander’s contract terms aren’t known, and it has been over four years since his promotion to the GM/senior VP of baseball operations position in November 2016.  So, if Neander’s new gig came with a five-year contract, it would be up at the end of 2021.  He makes the list due to uncertainty over his contractual situation, but it doesn’t seem like Neander and the Rays will be parting company any time soon, especially after the club reached the 2020 World Series.  Neander reportedly has no interest in leaving the organization and the Rays turned down the Angels’ request to speak with Neander about their GM opening earlier this offseason.

    Reds: 2021 is the last guaranteed year for manager David Bell, with the Reds holding a team option for 2022.  On the plus side for Bell, he led the team to the playoffs in 2020, though Cincinnati was swept out of the two-game wild card series without scoring even a single run against Atlanta pitching.  The Reds spent a lot of money to build that winning team, yet now seem focused on moving salaries, with Raisel Iglesias dealt to the Angels and such names as Eugenio Suarez and Sonny Gray also coming up in trade talks.  It remains to be seen if the Reds are trying to just trim payroll or make more wholesale cuts, and this direction could certainly impact Bell’s future if the club is already thinking rebuild.

    Rockies: Now through six full seasons as Colorado’s GM, Jeff Bridich’s contractual status is unknown.  Between the Rockies’ struggles over the last two years and the frosty relationship between Bridich and star third baseman Nolan Arenado, it would certainly seem like Bridich will need to get things turned around quickly.  However, payroll cuts appear to be on the horizon, and the front office is also dealing with the loss of two-thirds of the analytics department.  As has been noted many times in the past, Rockies owner Dick Monfort tends to give his employees lots of opportunities, but if Bridich’s contract is up any time soon, one wonders if Monfort might feel a change is necessary.

    Yankees: While no official statement has been made, owner Hal Steinbrenner clearly stated after the season that manager Aaron Boone will be returning in 2021, so it’s safe to assume the Yankees have exercised their club option on Boone.  There hasn’t been any buzz about an extension, and until then, there will be plenty of media focus on Boone’s lame-duck status.  Boone has a 236-148 record and three postseason appearances in his three seasons as manager, but as always in the Bronx, the focus is on playoff success — the Yankees have only made it as far the ALCS once during Boone’s tenure.  Anything short of a World Series appearance could spell the end of Boone’s stint as manager.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Brewers Claim Tim Lopes]]> 2020-12-22T20:59:31Z 2020-12-22T20:48:26Z The Brewers have claimed outfielder Tim Lopes off waivers from the Mariners, according to a Seattle press release.  Lopes was designated for assignment earlier this week to create roster space for the Mariners’ acquisition of Chris Flexen.

    Lopes made his MLB debut in 2019 and saw quite a bit of action for the Mariners last season, appearing in 46 of 60 games as part of Seattle’s unsettled corner outfield mix.  Over 279 career plate appearances at the big league level, Lopes has hit .252/.315/.362, and he has also stolen 11 bases in 14 attempts.

    The large majority of Lopes’ playing time at the Major League level has come as an outfielder, though unusually, he spent almost no time playing outfield in the minors, playing mostly as a second baseman with significant amounts of experience also at third base and shortstop.  As such, the 26-year-old Lopes can bring quite a bit of versatility to a Brewers roster that has a lot of unanswered questions around the diamond.  The Brewers have valued multi-positional bench types in the past, and Lopes could be seen as a potential super-utility candidate for Milwaukee’s bench.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Claim Phillip Ervin]]> 2020-12-22T20:19:23Z 2020-12-22T20:08:03Z The Cubs claimed outfielder Phillip Ervin off waivers from the Mariners, as announced by both teams.  Seattle designated Ervin for assignment last week.

    Ervin will return to the NL Central after spending four-plus seasons with the Reds, though his final act in Cincinnati wasn’t a pleasant one.  After a solid .262/.326/.438 slash line over 571 PA as a part-timer for the Reds from 2017-19, Ervin had only a .324 OPS over 42 PA for the Reds in 2020.  This led to a DFA in late August and a claim by the Mariners, as Ervin hit only somewhat better (.205/.340/.282) in 47 plate appearances for Seattle.

    Ervin has experience at all three outfield positions, so he could be a useful bench piece for the Cubs as they figure out their new post-Kyle Schwarber outfield.  The right-handed hitting Ervin has good numbers against left-handed pitching over his career, so he could spell Jason Heyward or Ian Happ when a southpaw is on the mound.  Ervin could have an advantage in the battle for backup role since he is out of minor league options, so the Cubs would have to risk losing him on waivers if they wanted to send him down to Triple-A.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/20/20]]> 2020-12-21T03:02:23Z 2020-12-21T03:01:18Z The latest minor transactions from around the sport…

    Latest Updates

    • Earlier this week, the Rays signed right-hander Chris Ellis to a minor league deal, as originally reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).  Originally a third-round pick for the Angels in the 2014 draft, Ellis was part of the trade package that brought Andrelton Simmons to Los Angeles back in November 2015.  The 28-year-old has a 4.80 ERA, 2.10 K/BB rate, and 8.5 K/9 over 645 1/3 career minor league innings for three different organizations (the Angels, Braves, and Cardinals), and he also had a cup of coffee in the big leagues with the Royals in 2019, appearing in one game.

    Earlier Today

    • The Nationals have signed right-hander Jefry Rodríguez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to MLB spring training, reports Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (Twitter link). The 27-year-old originally signed with the Nats as an international amateur from the Dominican Republic. He was traded to Cleveland in the November 2018 Yan Gomes deal. Rodríguez posted a 5.20 ERA with underwhelming strikeout (16.5%) and walk (13.3%) rates in 98.2 MLB innings from 2018-19. He spent last season at the Indians’ alternate training site, where he strained his shoulder in September. Cleveland non-tendered him earlier this month.
    • The Mariners announced they signed reliever Drew Steckenrider earlier this month (h/t to Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America). The 29-year-old broke into the majors with a pair of productive seasons with the Marlins but went down early in 2019 with a season-ending flexor strain. He spent all of 2020 on the injured list and was outrighted off Miami’s 40-man roster in October. The right-hander turns 30 in January.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners Assistant GM Joe Bohringer Resigns]]> 2020-12-19T18:45:38Z 2020-12-19T18:45:38Z Joe Bohringer has resigned his position as the Mariners’ assistant general manager in order to retire from baseball, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  Bohringer will remain with the team until the end of the year “to help guide in the transition” to a new hire.

    Bohringer was promoted the AGM job prior to the 2019 season, following three-plus years as special assistant to general manager Jerry Dipoto.  Though Bohringer is only 50 years old, he has spent 31 seasons in pro baseball, dating back to his beginnings as an intern with the Pirates and Yankees front office while still a student at MIT.  Bohringer’s resume includes front office and scouting positions with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and a prior stint with the Mariners as an area scouting supervisor from 2002-06 before returning to Seattle in 2015.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mariners Designate Tim Lopes For Assignment]]> 2020-12-19T01:01:54Z 2020-12-19T00:53:30Z The Mariners announced that they have designated infielder/outfielder Tim Lopes for assignment to make room for the signing of right-hander Chris Flexen, who’s officially part of the team.

    Lopes was a sixth-round pick of the Mariners in 2012, though he spent time with the Blue Jays a few years back before returning to the M’s on a minor league contract. He made his major league debut in 2019 and slashed a respectable .270/.359/.360 in 128 plate appearances, but the 26-year-old wasn’t able to offer that type of production over a slightly larger sample sample size last season. Lopes concluded with a .238/.278/.364 line in 151 trips to the plate.

    Despite his struggles last season, Lopes could draw interest as someone who has played a handful of positions in the majors (second base, third and both corner outfield spots). He also has three minor league options remaining.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners Sign Keynan Middleton, Designate Phillip Ervin]]> 2020-12-16T20:58:24Z 2020-12-16T20:55:59Z 2:55PM: Middleton’s deal will pay him $800K in guaranteed money, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets, with some incentive bonuses also available.

    12:06PM: The Mariners announced that right-hander Keynan Middleton has been signed to a Major League contract.  To create roster room, outfielder Phillip Ervin has been designated for assignment.

    The hard-throwing Middleton had a very promising rookie season in the Angels bullpen in 2017, though he was limited to only 25 1/3 total innings in 2018-19 due to Tommy John surgery.  This past season, Middleton threw 12 innings over 13 appearances for Los Angeles, posting a 5.25 ERA, 1.83 K/BB rate, and 8.3 K/9.

    According to Statcast, Middleton has consistently delivered very good fastball spin rates over his career, and his advanced metrics indicated that he was somewhat unlucky to post such a high ERA in 2020.  Nonetheless, the Angels non-tendered Middleton on December 2 rather than pay a projected arbitration salary of roughly $1MM.

    Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto was the Angels’ general manager when Middleton was drafted by the Halos back in 2013, and the two will now reunite on what Middleton described as his “home team” (he hails from Portland, Oregon) in the Mariners’ press release.  Even with the guaranteed salary of a MLB deal, the Mariners are taking what is likely a low-cost flier to see if Middleton can regain his rookie form now that he is healthy, and under somewhat more normal circumstances than the unusual 2020 season.

    Ervin was picked up on a waiver claim from the Reds in September, and he managed only a .622 OPS over 47 plate appearances in a Seattle uniform.  That was still markedly better than his performance over his first 42 PA of the season with Cincinnati, as Ervin had only a .324 OPS.  Prior to 2020, Ervin has delivered just about league-average offensive production as a part-timer with the Reds, hitting .262/.326/.438 over 571 PA from 2017-19.

    Picked 27th overall in the 2013 draft, Ervin has some decent minor league numbers and can play all three outfield positions, so he would seem like a decent candidate to land elsewhere on a waiver claim.  Ervin is out of minor league options, however.