Mariners send struggling Justin Smoak to minors

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The Mariners have sent Justin Smoak to Triple-A Tacoma, according to Jim Street of MLB.com.

The 23-year-old first baseman has struggled miserably since being being acquired from the Rangers in the Cliff Lee trade on July 9, batting just .159/.169/.270 with two home runs, five RBI and a pathetic 23/1 K/BB ratio over 63 at-bats. He was marred in a 2-for-38 slide.

The former 2008 first-round pick is batting .198/.288/.336 with 10 homers, 39 RBI and a 57/38 K/BB ratio over his first 235 at-bats in the big leagues, including a .173 batting average and 541 OPS against left-handers.

Smoak wasn’t expected to be a major power bat, but he was highly-regarded for his plate discipline, so I’d have to think that’s something of a mirage. Hopefully a few weeks in the PCL will help him get his confidence back.

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to a two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.