- Lefty James Pazos has been among the Mariners’ best relievers over the past two seasons, but Seattle optioned him to Triple-A on Sunday. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times examines the move, citing manager Scott Servais in writing that the organization feels that Pazos is in need of some mechanical corrections to get back into top form. Specifically, Servais indicated that Pazos “hasn’t been as consistent with his fastball” over the past six weeks or so, which has gotten him into trouble at times. The Mariners don’t expect Pazos to spend much more, if any, than the 10-day minimum in the minors as he works out the kinks, but Servais notes that he’s been falling behind hitters of late due to that fastball inconsistency. The organization, per Divish, has a “very detailed” plan for Pazos to follow in what sounds to be a brief trip to Tacoma.
The Orioles claimed outfielder John Andreoli off waivers from the Mariners, the club has announced. Andreoli had been designated for assignment yesterday. Baltimore has sent him to Triple-A Norfolk.
Andreoli is quite an interesting player. The 28-year-old enjoyed a solid season with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, hitting .287 with a .397 on-base percentage across 388 plate appearances. The disclaimer is that an unsustainable .381 BABIP is largely to thank for that, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see those figures drop by 50 points apiece if he regresses to the mean. In addition, the former 17th-rounder has exhibited very little power; he sports an ISO of just .114. He made his major league debut this season, notching a hit and a walk in six plate appearances prior to being designated for assignment yesterday.
Andreoli is capable of playing all three outfield positions, meaning he stands a chance of working his way into Baltimore’s outfield mix next season should be perform well in September. The Orioles will lose long-time franchise icon Adam Jones to free agency this winter, and as such there’ll be a large opening in the outfield for which Andreoli could throw his hat into the ring.
The Mariners announced today that they have selected the contract of veteran infielder Gordon Beckham. He’ll help the club fill out its infield mix while shortstop Jean Segura is on paternity leave. To create a 40-man opening, the Seattle organization designated outfielder John Andreoli for assignment.
Beckham, who’ll soon turn 32, has played two-dozen MLB games over the past two seasons with the M’s. He has spent most of his time of late, though, at Triple-A Tacoma. This year, the ten-year major-league veteran has posted a strong .311/.411/.479 slash with 52 walks against 46 strikeouts in his 370 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors.
The 28-year-old Andreoli, meanwhile, reached the majors this year only long enough to record his first and only big-league base hit. He’s in his first year in the Mariners org after spending seven professional campaigns in the Cubs system. Andreoli has posted a .287/.397/.401 slash in 388 plate appearances with Tacoma in 2018.
Here are Wednesday’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Mariners purchased the contract of former big league lefty David Rollins from the Sussex County Miners of the independent Can-Am League, reports Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto. He’ll join the Mariners’ top affiliate in Tacoma. Rollins was starting for the Miners, having notched a 2.79 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 through 113 innings, though he worked exclusively as a reliever in 31 Major League appearances with the Mariners back in 2015-16. Rollins has a 7.60 ERA in 34 1/3 innings at the big league level and also owns a 4.03 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 102 2/3 innings of Triple-A work.
- Catcher Dan Butler cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox and was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, tweets Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. Butler appeared in just two games for the Sox and went 1-for-6 with a single and a sac fly. Between that showing and a brief cameo with the Sox back in 2014, Butler has hit .200/.222/.320 in 27 MLB plate appearances. In 1715 plate appearances at Triple-A across parts of nine seasons, he’s posted a .246/.332/.383 batting line and thrown out 30 percent of would-be base thieves.
We’ll use this post to cover some notable health updates on a pair of Mariners hurlers: starter James Paxton, who has been a huge part of the club’s successes this year, and rehabbing reliever David Phelps.
The club seems to have averted disaster when Paxton was struck in the left arm last night with a comebacker, but that doesn’t mean the injury won’t have an impact. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the southpaw is likely to require a placement on the disabled list despite the fact that an x-ray did not reveal structural damage.
Paxton, 29, has given up a few more home runs and earned runs than he did last year, but has otherwise turned in another stellar campaign. He owns a 3.68 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 on the season. Paxton still has yet to make more than 24 starts or reach 140 innings in a single campaign, though he has already set high-water marks in both regards this year and will surpass those levels when he returns.
Meanwhile, Phelps has marked a notable step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. As Corey Brock of The Athletic tweets, Phelps has now thrown a baseball for the first time since going under the knife in March.
Of course, it’d be exceedingly optimistic to think Phelps will again pitch in the majors before reaching the open market at season’s end. But it’s certainly notable that he seems to be on a fast track to return. Last year, newly acquired Seattle reliever Zach Duke made it back after about a nine-month recovery period. Phelps still isn’t quite five months removed from his procedure.
Phelps’s market situation will certainly be improved if he’s able to get back up to full speed before camp opens next February. The 31-year-old has been a highly productive pitcher since moving into a full-time relief role at the start of a breakout 2016 season, but only made ten appearances in Seattle after being picked up in a trade with the Marlins last summer.
The Mariners announced Tuesday that infielder Robinson Cano has been reinstated from his 80-game suspension and added to the active roster. In a pair of corresponding moves, Seattle optioned right-hander Casey Lawrence to Triple-A Tacoma and transferred right-hander Sam Tuivailala from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. Tuivailala was already known to be out for the season following surgery to repair an injured Achilles tendon.
Cano, 35, batted .287/.385/.441 with four homers and 10 doubles through 169 plate appearances before the bombshell announcement that he’d been hit with an 80-game suspension following a failed PED test. Cano was on the disabled list due to a fractured finger at the time, though that injury is well behind him given the length of his ban. In his absence, the Mariners moved Dee Gordon from center field to second base and supplemented their outfield mix with acquisitions of Denard Span and Cameron Maybin.
The plan in Seattle has been for Cano to return in a multi-position role. He’s seen some work at third base while playing on an unpaid minor league assignment to get back up to speed, and he’s also likely to see time at first base and his customary second base slot as well. The Mariners, though, have plenty of reason to continue keeping Gordon sharp at second base, though. Gordon is, after all, a markedly better defender at second base than he is in center field, making Seattle a better defensive unit when he’s playing on the infield. Beyond that, Cano will be ineligible for postseason play having been suspended, so if the Mariners are able retake the second Wild Card spot away from the surging A’s (or, more improbably, steal the division away from the two teams ahead of them), it’d be Gordon receiving all of the team’s reps at second base in the playoffs.
At the time of the news, Cano’s suspension was viewed as a potentially critical blow to a surprisingly strong start to Seattle’s season. However, in his absence, the Mariners actually have a slightly better winning percentage than they’d enjoyed with Cano on the roster and producing rather well. Whether one considers the Mariners’ success in one-run games to be a sustainable means of winning, the fact remains that they’re now firmly within striking distance of ending their playoff drought. The return of Cano should only make them a more formidable team down the stretch, even if he’ll be a nonfactor should they earn a postseason berth.
There are quite a few minor moves to cover, with Baseball America’s Matt Eddy releasing several weeks’ worth of transactions. We’ll use this post to cover the most notable ones that haven’t yet featured on MLBTR:
- The Angels released outfielder Ben Revere, who could perhaps be an interesting player to target for contending clubs that like the idea of adding a good defender and baserunning threat to their system. Revere, 30, hasn’t seen the majors this year after seven-straight seasons of action at the game’s highest level. He’s slashing .277/.319/.406 with a pair of steals through 166 plate appearances at Triple-A.
- Ending a relationship that never seemed to work out, the Dodgers have cut loose infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena. Now 28, the former international signee hadn’t played much in the club’s system since he was suspended in May of 2016.
- The Phillies have released a pair of former big leaguers: infielder Danny Espinosa and outfielder Adron Chambers. Espinosa’s always fickle bat has not yet recovered from a 2017 nosedive. In 240 Triple-A plate appearances with three organizations this year, he owns a .295/.239/.312 slash. Chambers, meanwhile, hasn’t seen the majors since 2013 and last played affiliated ball in 2015, but came back from an indy stint to produce a .278/.328/.437 batting line in 138 Triple-A plate appearances.
- A host of players received their walking papers from the Diamondbacks. Righty Brian Ellington is among them; the flamethrower struggled badly with his command in limited minor-league action. Southpaw Anthony Vasquez was also released after after 85 2/3 innings of 5.04 ERA ball in the upper minors. The club also dropped several outfielders. Cesar Puello (.317/.426/.454) and Dan Robertson (.263/.361/.407) are both former big leaguers who were getting on base at Reno, but will now seek other opportunities.
- The Giants released two notable players in righty Chris Heston and backstop Ryan Hanigan. Heston, 30, only made nine appearances in the minors this year owing to injury. Hanigan, who’s closing in on his 38th birthday, is still looking to crack the majors for the 12th-straight season but did not help his cause with a .175/.254/.193 batting line in 63 plate appearances at Triple-A.
- The Cubs parted with Ryan Webb after he made just 11 appearances at the Rookie ball level. It is not immediately clear why the 32-year-old did not get a shot in the upper minors, or what’s next for him In eight seasons of MLB pitching, from 2009 through 2016, Webb owns a 3.43 ERA through 393 1/3 innings.
- A variety of other former major-league relief pitchers were also on the move. Among them: The White Sox signed once-promising Braves reliever Mauricio Cabrera. Righty Dallas Beeler was released by the Royals. A trio of former MLB lefties are back in free agency after being cut free: Elvis Araujo (Orioles); Paco Rodriguez (Twins); and Dario Alvarez (Mariners).
- Meanwhile, the Mariners parted with outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the Nationals did the same with Alejandro De Aza. One-time Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston landed with the Reds.
The emergence of Brandon Nimmo has left Jay Bruce as something of an odd man out with the Mets, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman notes that the Mets’ outfield in 2019 and beyond is likely to include Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, making it more difficult for Bruce to secure regular at-bats (barring a move to first base, which would come at the expense of the younger Dominic Smith). According to Sherman, Bruce can block trades to the Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rays and Athletics, but he can be shipped anywhere else without his consent. Sherman runs through some speculative possibilities in which Bruce, who is owed $28MM from 2019-20, could be swapped out for a player earning at a comparable rate. Of course, it’s also worth noting that Nimmo’s bat has declined in each month of the season since a torrid start, while Cespedes and (to a lesser extent) Conforto come with injury question marks.
- The Mariners have activated right-hander Erasmo Ramirez from the disabled list, with right-hander Nick Rumbelow going to Triple-A in the corresponding move. Ramirez will start for Seattle today against Houston and will be pitching in just his third game of an injury-plagued 2018 season. He opened the season on the DL due to a lat strain, and then has been sidelined since April 27 due to a teres major strain.
Tuivailala exited his outing against the Rangers on Wednesday with an Achilles injury, and it’ll prove to be his last time on the mound for a while. He only threw 5 1/3 innings this year with Seattle, which acquired him from St. Louis two weeks ago in a surprising trade. Between the two teams in 2018, the 25-year-old Tuivailila registered a 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP with 7.3 K/9, 2.92 BB/9 and a 49.2 percent groundball rate in 37 innings.
It’s not yet clear if Tuivailala will be ready to go in spring training, but the good news for the Mariners is that he’s controllable through the 2022 campaign. Tuivailala played this year on a relatively minimal salary and will do the same in 2019, which is slated to be his final pre-arb season. In the meantime, the playoff-contending Mariners will have to make do without a capable reliever as they try to erase the division-rival A’s 1 1/2-game lead on the AL’s second wild-card spot.