What’s a Friday afternoon without some roster moves?
Mariners roster moves:— Mariners PR (@MarinersPR) May 14, 2021
Donovan Walton, INF, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma
Evan White, INF, placed on 10-day Injured List
Evan White is headed to the IL with what the team is calling a “hip flexor” issue and fans might call a “badly strained batting average.” While the indication is White injured his hip in a diving play last night, one does have to wonder if it’s been enough of a nagging issue to cause some issues at the plate, as well.
Through the end of April, when White went on the bereavement list and missed a few games, he was striking out 27.3% of the time with a wRC+ of 34. That sounds bad, until you see that in May, White has been striking out 37% of the time, walking less, with a wRC+ of 17. Most worrisomely, whereas last year the belief was that while White was striking out a lot, when he did make contact he was hitting the ball extremely hard most of the time—52.5% of the time, in fact, top 5% in the league. This year, White has had a few hard-hit balls but isn’t consistently barreling the ball up (just 4.5% compared to last year’s top-10% rank of 14.1%), and his hard contact rate has dropped to just 28.8% of the time. While White’s defense will certainly be missed, hopefully a nice long rehab stint and some significant time in Tacoma healing both his body and mind will help him come back better than ever.
Ty France is likely also headed to the IL with what the team is calling a “wrist injury.” While nothing stood out from last night’s game that might have acutely caused the issue, Matthew did a deep dive the other day into France’s numbers since he was hit in the forearm by a 98 mph Dustin May fastball. That certainly seemed to have sapped France’s power, and maybe the wrist injury is related to trying to manufacture some power out of a broken kinetic chain. Whatever it is, it’s been painful to watch France struggle at the plate, and unlike White, there’s no Gold-Glove caliber defense propping up the other side of his game when the hitting goes away. We all look forward to Ty France coming back and mashing like his old self again, and wish him a smooth recovery.
To take White’s place, the team will be summoning INF Donovan Walton from Tacoma. Walton, who has been with the team on and off since 2019, can fill in anywhere on the infield, allowing the team to spell any of the infielders or move Moore to the outfield to spell Haniger or Lewis. While not a power hitter, he brings an ability to grind out at-bats and get on base that the team sorely lacks and, despite some rough-looking numbers in a limited MLB sample, has never been a big striker-outer throughout his career, all of which should be welcome to fans who are tired of getting up to get a drink and returning to the TV to find out the Mariners have once again gone down in order on ten pitches.
The team has also recalled INF Jack Mayfield from Tacoma, although without any official roster move as of the time of this writing. Mayfield was claimed off waivers in late April after being DFA’d by the Angels, who had acquired Mayfield for cash from Atlanta right before spring training started. Mayfield is, similar to Walton, someone who can play all over the infield and hit for some average if not for power. Two Donnie Waltons seems like a little much for one roster (especially as said roster already has Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty on it), and Servais wouldn’t commit to the fact that they’re sending France to the IL:
Mariners had Donnie Walton and Jack Mayfield -- both on the 40-man -- fly to Seattle from SLC this morning. White is going on the IL. Dipoto told @SportsRadioKJR that France was also headed for the IL, but Servais said pregame they may wait to see how the wrist feels.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 14, 2021
Despite what Dipoto said on KJR:
Jerry Dipoto on @SportsRadioKJR says Ty France (wrist) and Evan White (hip) are going on the injured list for the #Mariners— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) May 14, 2021
Hence the puzzle box headline here. I hate to think of this lineup hitting even less, but the fact is France has been not really hitting lately, and I hate even more to think of him possibly hurting himself more trying to belly up against the best pitchers in the world. As it stands currently, it seems like France will remain on the roster for now, but this is definitely a situation to monitor.
UPDATE 5:33 PM PST:
There’s the move.
Mariners roster moves:— Mariners PR (@MarinersPR) May 15, 2021
Jack Mayfield, INF, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma
Ty France, INF/DH, placed on 10-day Injured List