Learning from the lessons of John Buck, the Mariners graciously waited until after Mac Williamson’s birthday yesterday to deliver his unfortunately earned designation for assignment.
The #Mariners today announced the following roster moves: INF/OF Kristopher Negrón selected from AAA Tacoma; RHP Erik Swanson recalled from Tacoma; OF Mac Williamson designated for assignment. Seattle's Major League, 40-man, roster is now at 39.— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) July 16, 2019
The 29-year-old Williamson’s season is a disappointing reminder that not every swing change is effective. Despite adjusting his approach this offseason, Williamson worked a wretched .182/.276/.299 line in 25 games and 87 PAs with the Mariners despite homering in his first opportunity. He was better than his atrocious start with the Giants, raising his 11 wRC+ to 61 in Seattle, but unlike Andrew Romine a year ago, Williamson neither played nine positions nor offered pro bono shoe shinings for every member of the Mariners organization in-between innings. There’s a good chance Williamson sneaks through waivers and rejoins Tacoma, where perhaps he can find some adjustments.
To fill Williamson’s spot Seattle had a few choices. John Andreoli and Jaycob Brugman have both hit quite well, though they’re similar players to Williamson. Long-time Mariners prospect Ian Miller is beloved and has hit decently, as well as stealing 25 bases in 28 attempts. Tacoma’s most well-regarded current prospect, Jake Fraley, has also hit well in his first 85 PAs.
Instead, 33-year-old Kristopher Negrón got the call. If this were a Mariners club in the playoff hunt, this would probably track. Negrón has been Tacoma’s best full-season hitter, though what to make of the juiced ball PCL numbers is a tricky proposition. Miller’s .284/.350/.457 line is a below-average offensive pace, for instance. Negrón’s .310/.396/.503 is merely above-average, but his ability to play every defensive position always appealing. It’s not the most exciting move but, well, it’s the 2019 Mariners. Exciting baseball isn’t really their MO.
Also surprisingly on the way up is Erik Swanson. While he’s spent time in the bigs this year he’s not looked particularly impressive at any level. Most troublesomely, he spent a couple weeks on the IL in the minors with a hamstring strain, and has been roughed up a bit in a few abbreviated outings with the Rainiers. Whether the shorter stints are a purposeful shift towards the bullpen for Swanson or merely easing him into heavier work is unclear. It’s possible Seattle intends to piggy-back Swanson with Yusei Kikuchi or another of their starters in the near-future, perhaps even consistently. Alternatively, perhaps Swanson will start tomorrow’s TBA game. Time will tell.