Last offseason the Mariners acquired Casey Kotchman from the Red Sox, settled on $3.5 million contract to avoid arbitration, and then watched as the first baseman hit .217 with a lowly .280 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage in 125 games to rank as one of the worst players in baseball.
He remained under team control as an arbitration eligible player for 2011, but today the Mariners dropped him from the 40-man roster and Kotchman became a free agent by declining an assignment to Triple-A.
Kotchman is a better hitter than he showed this season and remains a very good defensive first baseman, but at this point it’s time to give up any hope of him becoming a starting-caliber hitter.
At age 28 he owns a career line of .259/.326/.392 in over 2,300 plate appearances, which is mediocre for a shortstop and downright awful for a first baseman regardless of the quality of his glove. He may have to settle for a minor-league contract and a chance to compete for a bench job in spring training.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.