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1B Joey Curletta claimed on waivers by Red Sox, no IL for now for Ryon Healy

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A pair of surprising decisions on Saturday morning.

MLB: Seattle Mariners-Media Day Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners 40-man roster just got a little smaller numerically and a lot smaller physically.

It’s a move that seems bizarre and wasteful at first blush, cutting ties with the organization’s 2018 Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year. Joey Curletta was a minor success story for the Mariners player development over the past two years, revitalizing his career after floundering in AA with the Dodgers. Curletta was an impressive hitter in AA-Arkansas last year, overcoming the level’s most difficult home stadium for power hitters to lead the M’s minors in homers with 23 and a .282/.383/.482 line. The adjustments he made - which I documented eagerly here - gave him access to his immense raw power, but he’d struggled with contact in his first taste of AAA. A 32.8% K% is poor, but through 119 PAs in his first go-around at the level, it’s surprising to see the M’s cut bait.

What may have informed the decision is Curletta’s age. Despite just turning 25 a month ago, this is Curletta’s eighth season as a pro, and he should be eligible for minor league free agency at the end of the World Series this year. This is a contract year, essentially, and he’s struggled mightily to start it off. The M’s could retain control of Curletta, of course, if they added him to their 25-man roster, placing him in pre-arb and putting him on the familiar clock we know for major leaguers, but as a 1B/DH who can perhaps dally in corner OF in an emergency, well, the Mariners have a few of those already. The logjam is only about to thicken in a couple weeks when Kyle Seager becomes eligible to return, so with Seager, Ryon Healy, Daniel Vogelbach, Edwin Encarnación, and Jay Bruce all essentially occupying spots Curletta could have, the M’s short leash is a bit more understandable.

Still, Curletta wasn’t (apologies to Ryne Ogren and Rayder Ascanio) Ryne Ogren or Rayder Ascanio. He was a fringy guy but someone who could’ve made the bigs later this season with a team like the Royals who are just steps into a rebuild and have a gaping abyss at the 1B position. Even if Evan White was breathing down Curletta’s neck (he’s currently OBPing higher than he’s slugging in AA and missed time with a minor hamstring injury) it just feels a bit wasteful to let him go to the Red Sox for free.

The other bit of 1B-related news today is that Ryon Healy, who was pulled from yesterday’s game with a groin injury, will NOT be placed on the IL as expected yesterday.

This sounds like a temporary move, and that an IL move could still come, but for now Shed Long (who was pulled from last night’s game, but it appears for a similar minor injury) will remain in Tacoma.