The Mariners announced today that they have claimed LHP Tayler Saucedo off waivers from the Mets. To make room for Saucedo, the Mariners DFA’d J.B. Bukauskas, who they’d just picked up a couple of weeks ago. And just after I learned how to spell “Bukauskas,” too.
Saucedo, 29, was born in Honolulu but moved to Washington and attended Tahoma High School in Maple Valley. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 21st round of the 2015 draft, spending his entire career in Toronto’s system before making his big-league debut in 2021. He was DFA’d during the off-season and picked up by the Mets, who then DFA’d him to make room for Tommy Pham, at which point the Mariners picked him up.
On the surface, Saucedo seems very like an opposite-handed Easton McGee, another off-season waiver claim. Like McGee, Saucedo is on the taller side (6’4” officially, but maybe closer to 6’5”) but doesn’t throw especially hard, with a fastball/sinker that both hang out around 93 MPH on average (although he did pop a couple 96 MPH fastballs in his first go-round in the bigs in 2021). Like McGee, Saucedo uses that sinker to induce a tremendous amount of ground balls, getting batters to put the ball on the ground upwards of half the time. And also like McGee, he has spent time both starting and working out of the bullpen, and thus has a full complement of pitches, rounding out his arsenal with a slider, curveball, and changeup.
The difference between the two is in the K-BB columns. While McGee hardly ever offers free passes and rarely strikes people out, Saucedo has flirted with double-digit walk rates at times. However, after years of posting unimpressive strikeout totals, something shifted for Saucedo in 2021, when his K/9 jumped from 5s and 6s to 12s and 13s. Without having followed his journey closely, it’s hard to tell what that could have been from the outside, but Saucedo says that he didn’t discover the sinker until 2017 or ‘18, so it might have just taken him a year or so to perfect the pitch.
In this video, you can see how he can be an uncomfortable at-bat for a righty or a lefty when he’s sinking and moving stuff all over the place:
On first blush, Saucedo is an interesting pickup; there’s lots here to work with, and he’s in the right hands with the Mariners’ pitching development. It’s also nice to have another lefty option out of the righty-heavy pitching pile, and Saucedo still has a pair of MLB options, so the Mariners can develop him off-site without worrying about losing him. It’s also always nice to have a local kid (and ardent Seahawks fan) come home, and especially one who is a vocal advocate for mental health (if you do nothing else, click on that story and read it). We are wishing Tayler the best in his homecoming.