The shortened season of 2020 has led teams to be less patient than they otherwise may have been, especially those with playoff aspirations. And with 8 teams in each league set to make the playoffs, more teams have these aspirations. One team that doesn’t are your Seattle Mariners, which puts them in an interesting position to take advantage of the 20-25 teams who are playoff contenders.
One of the team’s with playoff aspirations is the Philadelphia Phillies. In a tough division that includes the Nationals, Braves, and Mets, Philly doesn’t have an easy path to the postseason and every game is crucial. Because of this, Philadelphia doesn’t enjoy the same luxury as Seattle. In other words, they can’t wait to see if a guy will figure it out. And on Tuesday, they pulled the plug on two interesting options.
The name that will immediately jump out to most is outfielder Nick Williams. Acquired from the Texas Rangers, Williams sat inside most publications Top 100 prospect lists as a solid all around player. But similar to Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford, Williams fell shirt of expectations in Philly and was surpassed on the depth chart by veterans brought in to improve the team.
Unlike Crawford, Williams got a full season with the Phillies and did produce decent numbers in 2017 and 2018. In 791 PAs Williams slashed.269/.330/.446 with 29 home runs, good for an average 106 wRC+ in his first 200 plus games.
Unfortunately, Williams lost a lot of his value by playing some pretty bad defense, posting negative UZR/150 in both seasons, though he was better in left field than right field. The overall profile allowed Williams to post a 0.9 fWAR over the 2017-18 seasons.
But 2019 was a disaster and Williams struggled to make contact and his K% jumped nearly 15%. Williams couldn’t make his way onto the expanded 30 man roster to start this season and was DFA’d despite having an option year remaining.
Williams’s option year and the fact that he is not yet arbitration-eligible may make him more attractive to some teams, but very few can offer him time at the big league level. The Seattle Mariners could be one of those teams.
Also DFA’d by the Phillies, Trevor Kelley may make some sense for the Mariners as well. The 26-year-old reliever has two option years remaining and an interesting skill set. A true sidearmer, Mariners fans may get some Steve Cishek vibes from Kelley. He throws a sinking fastball at 89-92 MPH with a firm slider that sometimes morphs into a cutter. Kelley hasn’t thrown but 11.2 big league innings, and the numbers aren’t pretty. But that is par for the course of this Mariners bullpen and Kelley does have option years remaining.
Getting a different arm angle in your bullpen can be helpful and Kelley has decent stuff from which to work with. If Seattle can improve the cutter or slider, a speciality of the current player development staff, Kelley could be an intriguing add for the rest of this season or a stash and see in Tacoma at the secondary training sight.
Ultimately, Williams is an interesting waiver claim candidate (if he gets to you) and is still young enough to possibly get some value out of. When you look at his player profile, there are a lot of similarities to Nomar Mazara. Kelley is more of a dart throw with the upside of a middle reliever. Neither is likely going to be a Mariner but Seattle can offer opportunities to both and with their current player development track record, could get more out of them than any other team.