The Seattle Mariners announced today that they had designated RHP Chris Flexen for assignment, clearing a spot on the 26-man roster to activate RHP Trevor Gott from the 15-day injured list. The move also clears a 40-man roster space, though that is not necessary for Gott’s activation.
This likely marks the end of the line for Flexen’s time in Seattle, as he’ll likely clear waivers due to his $8 million salary this season earned by vesting his option over the past couple seasons of steady play. Likely, he’ll have the chance to sign a minor league deal with a rotation-needy club. This year’s Mariners roster never quite had a home for Flexen, as he struggled mightily when Robbie Ray went down with injury and saw future rotation opportunities gobbled up by rookies Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo despite the absence of Marco Gonzales. In a mop-up role he was able to eat innings, albeit scarcely without blemishes.
Flexen’s gruesome 7.71/6.65/5.39 ERA/FIP/DRA in 2023 tells a disappointingly accurate tale of a pitcher who could not walk the narrow path carved from the side of a canyon that low-velocity pitchers are always traipsing. After exceptional performance in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2020, Flexen signed with the M’s for what was ultimately a 3-year, $12.75 million deal that is the 4th-biggest (by total $) free agent contract signed in the Dipoto era, trailing only Robbie Ray, Yusei Kikuchi, and Juan Nicasio. Flex responded with a stellar 2021 showing in Seattle, pacing the rotation in fWAR, ERA, and IP. 2022 was shakier in his peripherals. Flexen snuck around the concept of home runs for most of the season, running a still-solid 3.76 ERA despite peripherals screaming such epithets as “you deserve an ERA 27% worse than league-average” and “how did you just elicit ANOTHER double play?!” repeatedly. Flex endured utterly non-existent run support for much of last season but ground through innings all the same, serving to help Seattle ease in Logan Gilbert and George Kirby without completely blowing through their innings limits. His disappointing 2023 puts an unsavory cherry atop his Seattle tenure, but hopefully greener pastures still are on the horizon for the hyper-competitive hurler. As Lou put it prior to this year, you earned our respect.