As the dog days of August set in, the Mariners made a slew of roster moves ahead of their game today:
- RHP Bryan Woo activated from IL;
- RHPs Darren McCaughan and Eduard Bazardo returned to Triple-A Tacoma;
- RHP Emerson Hancock moved to 60-day IL;
- RHP Luke Weaver signed to a one-year contract.
First, the good news. Bryan Woo will make his scheduled start tonight after being down the past two weeks with mild right forearm inflammation. To make room for Woo, RHPs Darren McCaughan and Eduard Bazardo will be returned to Triple-A Tacoma after pitching in last night’s blowout win. We thank them both for their service in resting an exhausted bullpen.
Now, the bad news: Emerson Hancock is headed to the 60-day IL, effectively ending his season. Per Daniel Kramer, his recovery time was expected to be 4-6 weeks, which would have put him out of the season anyway, so the move to the 60-day frees up a roster spot. However, as I wrote in yesterday’s blurb, it’s troubling that Hancock is experiencing issues with the same lat/shoulder area that has bothered him his entire pro career, delaying or truncating his seasons at various points in his development. Shoulder injuries can be very tricky to get a handle on compared to the more straightforward, if lengthier, elbow tendon injury, so hopefully during his down time the team can help Hancock find a long-term solution to this recurring problem.
Taking Hancock’s place as a long reliever will be Luke Weaver, signed today to a one-year MLB contract. The 30-year-old Weaver, like new teammate Cal Raleigh, is an FSU alum who was drafted in the first round in 2014 by the Cardinals and was part of their formidable wave of young pitchers that included Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, Dakota Hudson, and current Mariner Marco Gonzales. After a promising start in St. Louis, Weaver wavered, eventually being moved to the bullpen before being packaged in a trade to Arizona for Paul Goldschmidt. With Arizona, Weaver returned to a starting role but battled injuries, never pitching a full season, before being shipped to Kansas City in 2022 for infielder Emmanuel Rivera. He signed with the Mariners for a hot minute that off-season before being non-tendered and signed with Cincinnati for this season, but struggled and was designated for assignment before being released on August 18.
Weaver is a fastball-changeup pitcher who will also mix in a slider and curveball, and rarely a cutter, a new pitch he developed just this past spring. Weaver also brings a funkily low release point that should slot in interestingly with Seattle’s group of arms. He’s got plenty of pitches to work with for the M’s vaunted pitching development to optimize, but it’s a bit discouraging that they had him at the beginning of the year and let him go to Cincinnati. Of course, at that time the Mariners were looking at a rotation that included both Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzales, with Chris Flexen hovering on the edges, and their crop of pitching prospects at Double-A; Weaver is walking into much more of a land of opportunity in Seattle now. With Bryan Woo back but the M’s hoping to find places to ease the workload on both Woo and Bryce Miller, Weaver will likely have a long relief and occasional spot start role, as the club has shelved plans for the six-man rotation. Here’s hoping he’s able to take advantage of a third—fourth?—act with the Mariners.