The Mariners continued to shuffle their bullpen this week, making some surprising and not-so-surprising moves.
One of the more surprising moves was apparently exposing RHP Art Warren to waivers; he was gleefully snatched up by the Rangers earlier this week. It’s unclear why Seattle thought they could sneak the big, hard-throwing righty through waivers; maybe after burying him at the alternate training site for 2020 they thought he’d pass by unnoticed? Whatever it was, that’s a solid five years of development with no payoff. We wish Art, who has been a friend of the site, all the best in Texas.
The Mariners also outrighted Nestor Cortes, Carl Edwards Jr., and Matt Magill to Tacoma, removing them from the 40-man roster. The biggest surprise here is Magill, who was a potential trade candidate in 2020 had he remained healthy. Instead, he’s now a free agent along with CEJ and Cortés, who both struggled with injury/ineffectiveness during their short stints in Seattle.
The Mariners used some of their newfound free 40-man space today by claiming Domingo Tapia off waivers from the Red Sox. Tapia is a 28-year-old righty with an XL body. He has a long arm action from a 3⁄4 slot that generates a lot of arm speed, but also can result in balls sailing up out of the strike zone. He throws hard, touching 100 with some late movement, but has never been a big strikeout pitcher and struggles to command his stuff and walks too many batters, resulting in a long, arduous climb first through the Mets system and then Boston’s after signing as an MiLB free agent in 2019. Tapia made his MLB debut this season and allowed no barrels on the 80 pitches he threw, but an FIP/xFIP in the mid-5s suggests that there is some heavy regression coming on his shiny 2.08 ERA.
Here he is blowing away Luke Voit with 99:
And here he is not sneaking 98 past Baltimore’s Rio Ruiz:
The Red Sox, who aren’t exactly bullpen-rich, apparently saw Tapia as expendable enough to risk him on waivers; perhaps the Mariners believe they can correct something in his delivery or pitch mix. Tapia throws a sinker that’s almost as hard as his fastball up in the zone along with a slider with above-average sweep, so there’s stuff to work with here, but at two months shy of his 29th birthday, he’d be the very definition of a late bloomer.
UPDATE, 4:34 PT:
It’s the Red Wedding around here for relievers as the Mariners also announced today that LHP Taylor Guilbeau has been claimed on waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Guilbeau got a long look with the team between the end of last season and both versions of spring training, but was ineffective in his big-league time before going on the IL with a shoulder strain. Shoulders are scary business for pitchers so hopefully Guilbeau is able to get back to form with Arizona, but obviously Seattle felt they needed the roster space more. Speaking of injured pitchers, RHP Gerson Bautista, who missed the 2020 season with a sprained UCL, was also outrighted off the 40-man, but cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Tacoma (Bautista does not have enough service time to be able to elect free agency). Since both pitchers were on the 45-day IL, that doesn’t clear roster space, so the 40-man remains at 34, with Tom Murphy, Andres Muñoz, and Mitch Haniger still on the IL and needing to be re-added.