The Mariners made a handful of roster moves on Saturday afternoon, per Shannon Drayer of MyNorthwest.com. The club has outrighted pitcher Blake Beavan from the 40-man roster after he cleared waivers and placed DH Corey Hart on the disabled list with a right knee contusion. With the extra roster space, the Mariners activated pitcher James Paxton from the 60-day disabled list.
Paxton, 25, has been on the disabled list since April 9 with a strained lat in his left shoulder. The lefty made only two starts prior to the injury, allowing three runs over 12 innings with a 13/2 K/BB ratio.
Hart, 32, missed 42 games with a stint on the DL between May 19 and July 3 with a strained left hamstring. It is no surprise that the oft-injured veteran is back on the DL. He has slashed a disappointing .203/.278/.314 with five home runs and 20 RBI in his first season with the Mariners after signing a one-year, $6 million deal back in December.
Beavan, 25, has missed most of the season with an impingement in his right shoulder. He made one start for the Mariners in the big leagues, allowing two runs over four innings against the Rangers on April 15. In 21 non-rehab innings in the minors, Beavan has a 2.14 ERA with a 14/9 K/BB ratio.
A disappointing day for the Royals got worse late Thursday night, as the team discovered that first baseman Eric Hosmer could miss 3-4 weeks with a stress fracture in his hand.
It’s an especially poorly-timed injury with the trade deadline having just passed. Worse, the Royals recently traded Danny Valencia to the Blue Jays for catcher Erik Kratz, denying them their best fallback option at first base. They’ll most likely turn to Raul Ibanez for now. They could later explore a deal for Boston’s Mike Carp or Seattle’s Corey Hart once waivers go through.
Hosmer has had a disappointing year, but he was the Royals’ best player of late, hitting .377/.436/.551 with two homers in 21 games this month. Ibanez is hitting .209/.244/.372 in 43 at-bats since joining the Royals and .167/.255/.287 in 209 at-bats this year.
Last week the Mariners were said to be interested in Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd and now their search for a right-handed hitter apparently includes Royals designated hitter Billy Butler.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the Mariners have “talked to the Royals about Butler,” who has struggled this season by posting career-lows in batting average (.273) and slugging percentage (.355) while managing just three home runs in 379 plate appearances.
Butler is still just 28 years old and has a lengthy track record of good hitting, although he never quite took the next step from very good young hitter to star-caliber hitter. He posted an OPS between .820 and .885 each season from 2009 to 2012, and then it dropped to .787 last year before plummeting to .679 this season.
He’s making $8 million this season with a $12.5 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2015, and based on his production for the past season-and-a-half he wouldn’t be worth that money next year. It’s also worth noting that the Royals have reportedly targeted Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes as a potential trade target, which might lend credence to Butler being available.
Seattle has used 13 different players in the DH spot through 95 games, with Corey Hart leading the way with 42 starts. And they’ve combined to hit .197 with eight homers and a .567 OPS, so even if Butler doesn’t turn things around in the second half he’d still provide a big upgrade.
Justin Smoak is off the disabled list after missing nearly a month with a strained quadriceps, but instead of simply adding him to the active roster the Mariners demoted the first baseman to Triple-A.
Smoak really struggled before the injury, hitting .208 with seven homers and a .643 OPS in 63 games, which is a 100-point drop from his 2013 production.
Logan Morrison has been serving as Seattle’s everyday first baseman and rather than shifting him back to the outfield the Mariners will leave him there and stick with Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders in the corner spots while using the newly activated Corey Hart at designated hitter.
Last year was just the second time in Smoak’s career that he’s been an above-average hitter, so the Mariners may simply be ready to give up on the 27-year-old former top prospect.
Out since mid-May with a hamstring injury, Corey Hart is off the disabled list and ready to resume his attempted bounceback season with the Mariners.
Hart missed all of last year for the Brewers due to knee problems and got off to a very slow start this season, hitting .209 with five homers and a .647 OPS in 37 games. He hit well on a minor-league rehab assignment to convince the Mariners he was ready to return.
Hart inked a one-year, $6 million deal with the Mariners in the hopes of showing that he was healthy and as productive as the 2010-2012 version who hit .280 with an average of 30 homers per season.