When the Mariners designated Chris Flexen for assignment last week, we assumed that’d be the end of the road for his tenure in Seattle. Given his contract status, if he had cleared waivers, he would have been able to reject an assignment to Tacoma, and instead become a free agent where he could try to find a spot where he’d have more opportunities. It seems that during the pre-release window, the Mariners worked something out with the Mets.
The Mets have acquired Chris Flexen and Trevor Gott from the Mariners for lefty Zach Muckenhirn, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 3, 2023
The crux of the deal here is that the Mariners are giving New York Trevor Gott so that they do not have to pay Flexen the remaining ~$4 million they owe him. There’s a strong chance that the Mets DFA Flexen immediately. [Update: indeed that’s the plan.]
While it’s sad to see the Mariners and Chris Flexen part ways—I’ll link one more time to Lou’s argument that he’s earned our respect—it’s unsurprising and the correct baseball move. But it is nonetheless funny that the Metropolitans find themselves as the counterparty to this deal given that they’re the ones who failed to develop Flexen in the first place.
Trevor “Blood Clot” Gott, meanwhile, is the best player in this deal. At a cool $1 million/one-year deal, he got the Mariners’ second biggest free agent contract of the offseason. Mostly unknown before coming to Seattle, he sunk and spun his way to a 3.01 FIP over 29 innings, helping to shore up the Mariners bullpen. It seems that the Mets were willing to pay Flexen’s remaining salary just to get Gott.
Zach Muckenhirn will report to Tacoma, according to Shannon Drayer. (If he makes it to Seattle, he’ll be the first Mariners Zach since Zac Grotz gave up 4 home runs in 7 innings during 2020.) He’s a reliever who was DFA’d by the Mets last night. His primary pitch is a fastball that comes in at 91-93, but it’s got 99% active spin, so that’s something.
His breaking ball is classified as a slider even though it only has 3.5 inches of horizontal break compared to 39.4 inches of drop. Kate reports, “he’ll throw [the slider] at the bottom of the zone, where it doesn’t seem to fool major league hitters, or at the top rail for a called strike.” When it’s at the top of the zone, it’s an acceptable pairing with the fastball, like a (very) poor man’s Paul Sewald.
He’s also got a change up that he doesn’t seem to trust as much but that looks pretty decent to me when he can get it on the edges.
Despite not being good enough to keep a spot on the 2023 Mets, you can see what got the Mariners’ attention. For one thing, he C’ed the Z as an amateur, with a 99:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a junior at the University of North Dakota. (Speaking of UND, he was the first Fighting Hawk to reach MLB.) And his resume consists of stops in the devlopment systems of the Orioles, White Sox, and Mets. It’s reasonable enough for the Mariners’ pitching development folks to think that they could make something out of ol’ Zachy Muckraker (this nickname is a placeholder until we hear from Tayler Saucedo).
This leaves a spot on the Mariners 26-man roster, which will probably be filled by the time of the game preview. We’ll keep you posted. The chalk pick would be Darren McCaughan.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t get too attached to Muckenhirn. I think the smart money is that this doesn’t work out, and we see Prelander Berroa sooner rather than later. At bottom, this is a move in which the Mariners gave away a decent reliever in order to save a few million bucks. You’d feel better about that if you had any faith that the Mariners were going to spend those savings on other players, but you’ll believe that when you see it.