With every signing comes an equal but opposite reaction, and thanks to the Mariners bringing Keynan Middleton and Chris Flexen aboard with a full 40-man roster, a couple of guys had to go. Phillip Ervin and Tim Lopes had spent the past few days floating in DFA limbo, and this afternoon, their wait is over.
Outfielder Phillip Ervin, who was DFA'd by the Mariners a few days ago, has been claimed by the Cubs.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) December 22, 2020
Tim Lopes has been claimed by the Brewers— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) December 22, 2020
Despite being the latest marginal fourth outfielder to capture my heart, Ervin didn’t do a ton of damage in his brief time in Seattle, putting up an 87 wRC+ with a slugging percentage under .300 across 47 trips to the plate. He did manage a 17% walk rate in that time, though, and that 87 mark is over twenty times better than the four (4) he put up over 42 plate appearances in Cincinnati before coming aboard. He also flashed decent defense in right field - in fact, Baseball-Reference lists him as the 2020 Mariners’ primary right fielder. What a year! Plus, he brought a little flair to his game:
paint me, french girls, etc pic.twitter.com/AYM73YARkI— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) September 13, 2020
A first-round pick in 2013 by the Reds, Ervin has struggled to establish himself as a big league regular, posting a 91 wRC+ over his career and never cracking more than 260 plate appearances in a season since breaking into the Majors in 2017. With Kyle Schwarber being non-tendered by the Cubs earlier this month, there’s room for Ervin to force his way onto their roster, but with all three of his minor league options exhausted and the market starting to pick up, he may be riding the DFA/waiver claim train a couple more times before teams report for spring training.
Lopes being claimed comes as less of a surprise; at 26, he still has all of his options, and despite having very little outfield experience as a minor leaguer, showed that he can handle a corner spot admirably, as well as being capable of manning second or third base. A favorite of LL staffer Nat, Lopes was a 6th round pick in 2012 by the Mariners, and was shipped to the Blue Jays in 2016 for the ambidextrous Pat Venditte, but returned following the 2018 season. He made his Mariner debut in July 2019, and had an eventful first few days in the bigs: his first Major League start ended in him taking a fastball to the helmet, and after missing a week or so, came back as a pinch-hitter and got his first big league hit, home run, and two RBIs all at once:
Lopes was a bright spot in 2019, slashing .270/.359/.360 across 128 plate appearances down the stretch, but couldn’t get things going in 2020, and had fallen behind Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty on the depth chart by season’s end. His production dropped to just .238/.278/.364 over 151 turns at bat, and although his ISO crept up by almost 40 points, his walk rate cratered, going from a strong 11.7% in 2019 to just 4% in 2020, but he did manage to trim his strikeout rate a bit if we’re hunting for positives. With his youngish age and versatility, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him stick with Milwaukee for a decent stretch. In any case, Lopes was a fun story and easy to root for, especially if you followed the 2016 Jackson Generals championship season, where he served as their second baseman. Here’s to hoping he finds a home in the Midwest.