After several days of limbo, the Mariners have made the signing of RHP Chris Flexen official, as a two year deal with a team option for a third. In the process, they’ve designated UTIL Tim Lopes for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot. Flexen projects as one of Seattle’s six starting pitchers for 2021, with the club hoping the 26 year old slots right in and thrives after a series of adjustments in the Korean Baseball Organization helped him dominate for the Doosan Bears. Michael Ajeto wrote him up when he was acquired, so you should refer to his article for specifics on what Flexen brings to Seattle.
Sources: In his two-year deal with the Mariners, Chris Flexen gets $600K signing bonus, $1.4m in 2021, $2.75m in 2022. There is a club option for $4m for 2023, or a vesting option for $8m. (Can vest at 150 IP in '22, or 300 IP in '21/'22).— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 9, 2020
The new news for today is who was cleared off the 40-man roster to make room for Flexen. Tim Lopes was a bit of a happy homecoming story over the past couple years, having been dealt to Toronto prior to 2017 as a 23 year old in AA for SHP Pat Venditte. The trade worked out for neither team, but Seattle was able to sign Lopes as a minor league free agent prior to 2019 after the Blue Jays released him. Lopes’ knack for contact helped him put together a power-lite utility role for the 2019 M’s, putting a glimmer of intrigue on his future big league opportunities as he hit .270/.359/.360. Still, without much acumen for the shortstop position, Lopes has a UTIL role of 2B/3B/cOF, and his bat was outpaced by a few of his more defensively versatile teammates in 2020. Still, despite next to no outfield experience, Lopes was played far more in corner outfield slots as a pro than his natural infield positions, and responded admirably, considering.
The former 6th round pick could easily slip through waivers due to the glut of similarly talented players in the free agent pool, but with three minor league options unused and excellent baserunning and base stealing skills, Lopes is a versatile fit for many rosters. Rebuilders could take another crack at the 26 year old, and contenders might see him as a flexible depth option. If he does clear waivers, he’ll come into spring training competing with Sam Haggerty, Shed Long Jr., and Donavan Walton for a bench UTIL role, with both Dylan Moore and Ty France similarly flexible.