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Mariners claim OF José Siri off waivers from Reds, designate RHP Matt Festa for assignment

Get all your puns out now because I will not be making them.

Cincinnati Reds Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

The Mariners made an intriguing move Monday, claiming minor league outfielder José Siri off waivers from the Reds, per C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic.

Siri has tools that scouts glow over, particularly with regards to his speed and defense. He’s a capable center fielder, with a strong arm and enough speed to steal 20+ bases every season since 2016, from Rookie Ball through AAA, including 46 swipes in 2017. The 24 year old has been in affiliated ball since 2013, struggling mightily in 30 games at AAA-Louisville after so-so numbers at the plate in AA-Chattanooga. The limiting factor for Siri’s potential has been a combination of subpar swing decisions and a swing style that is geared to rip the cover off the ball or miss it almost entirely.

Baseball Prospectus noted this winter he was the type of player more likely to turn out as a 30-grade or 70-grade than a 50-grade, and time is ticking on that progression. His bat speed, baserunning, and defensive consistency look like that of a future stud, but running strikeout rates >30% while walking only 8-8.5% of the time just won’t get a player there. Siri is well-built, and has shown hit-tool promise in the past, with a 36-game hitting streak that set the Low-A Midwest League record in 2017, but the long-maligned Reds player development system appears to have had a deleterious effect on Siri’s swing.

Between 2017... 2018... 2019

The consistent tinkering has not yielded superior results, and Siri has been put in a degree of prospect limbo. If public lists are correct, he has just one remaining option year, which would leave Siri with essentially one year to make himself an MLB-adjacent talent or find himself a minor league free agent a year from now. For Seattle, the focus will likely be to settle him on a single swing, and perhaps better communicate their coaching philosophy to the young Dominican. Better health, too, would be a blessing for Siri, who has missed time with a few high-effort energies, including a collision with the center field wall in spring training of 2018 that damaged ligaments in his thumb and may have impacted his offense. Our sister site, Red Reporter, saw Siri as one of the club’s most enigmatic young players, but for a club hoping to contend in 2020, there’s no room on the 40-man.

Hopefully for Siri, a change of scenery can be a positive fresh start. He could start in either AA-Arkansas or AAA-Tacoma, alongside some combination of Jarred Kelenic, Dom Thompson-Williams, Julio Rodriguez, Luis Liberato, Connor Lien, Eric Filia, Sam Haggerty, and Braden Bishop.

The move will require a corresponding 40-man move, which should be forthcoming. We will update this article once it is made public.

To clear space on the 40-man roster, the team has designated RHP Matt Festa for assignment. Festa, who turns 27 in March, shot up through the minors, but struggled to miss bats in his first 30 innings in the bigs. Without a single dynamic breaking ball, Festa has had success mixing both his slider and curveball in the minors. Neither pitch looked its best in 2019, however, and Festa saw his command slip between AAA and MLB, running >4 BB/9 rates at both levels. Tellingly, the team opted not to call up Festa in September after Tacoma’s season ended, despite already occupying a 40-man spot.