The Mariners will make a roster move before Tuesday’s games in Baltimore. Outfielder Mike Wilson will be called up by the team. Wilson didn’t play in today’s game in Tacoma, which was a little odd since he’s been one of the Rainiers best hitters in recent weeks. But guys do get days off too.
What it made it more distinctive is when Wilson didn’t pinch hit for Sean Kazmar in the bottom of ninth with the Rainiers trailing 6-4 and a runner on second with two outs. It’s because Wilson was being called up.
Multiple sources confirmed it. And, well, it was obvious when Wilson was getting hugs and good luck wishes from teammates and staff after the game.
This will be Wilson’s first trip to the big leagues in his nine-year career. He was drafted by the Mariners with a second-round pick in the 2001 draft. He’s spent his entire career in the organization, even re-signing a minor league deal with Seattle in the offseason.
Last year, he spent the first 22 games of the season with Double A Jackson, Wilson was promoted to Tacoma and appeared in 88 games, hitting .273 (78-for-286) with a .364 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. He hit 12 doubles and 17 home runs with 56 RBI. He also helped lead the Rainiers to the PCL title. In seven postseason games, he hit .353 (6-for-17) with three homers and seven RBI and was named MVP of the PCL championship series, hitting a homer in every game of the three-game sweep.
He’s earned this chance with the way he’s been playing this season, despite missing a week after injuring his shoulder colliding with the wall. Wilson has played in 16 games and is hitting .381 (24-for-63) with a .429 OBP and .683 slugging percentage. He has seven doubles, four homers and 14 RBI.
The brief scouting report is the guy is strong and has legitimate power from the right side. Is he going to strike out? Yes. He will. He had 67 strikeouts in 88 games with Tacoma last season. He’s a decent outfielder and is athletic. He was offered a scholarship to play football for the University of Oklahoma as a senior at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa.
Now the bigger question is what the corresponding move will be. Remember Wilson isn’t on the 40-man roster. So someone needs to come off the 40-man and be designated for assignment, meaning another team could claim them off waivers.
There are any number of things that could happen.
The logical guess would be a reliever would be the first to go. Manager Eric Wedge isn’t using certain pitchers in the bullpen much. On Saturday, Dan Cortes pitched for the first time since being called up 11 days ago. Tom Wilhelmson and Chris Ray have both only thrown once over the same span of time. With an off day on Monday, Wedge could likely go to a six-man bullpen. But he’s also hesitant. The Mariners don’t have another off day till May 26 and also have an interleague series against San Diego in that stretch.
If they were to send down Cortes (more likely than Wilhelmsen) they would have to still have to remove someone off the 40-man roster, perhaps Edward Paredes or Yoervis Medina, both of whom are on the 40-man and not pitching well at all.
Or the easier move would be to simply designate Chris Ray for assignment. The former Orioles closer has lost his set-up role in the bullpen and lost Wedge’s trust. Ray simply isn’t getting many swings and misses. He’s trying to regain the movment to his fastball, but the Mariners might not want to wait around.
Another move could be placing Chone Figgins on the DL if his knee is that badly bruised. But a player on the 15-day DL is still on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding 40-man move would have to be made to put Wilson on there.
The same would apply if the struggling Michael Saunders was being optioned back to Tacoma. He is clearly pressing and he needs time to work on his approach and the dramatic swing change. Would some time with the Rainiers help? Yes, but they need his defense in center field right now. Unless Franklin Gutierrez is somehow ready to be activated from the disabled list, which means another player would be sent out. And still any move involving Wilson, means a 40-man move.
At this point, I think Paredes would pass through waivers, he’s pitching that poorly. So it’s possible.
Two weeks ago, if anyone was going to be DFA’d, I would have bet on Jack Cust. But he seems to be doing better and his presence in the clubhouse is something Wedge likes. Ryan Langerhans hasn’t played great either, and is a lesser candidate to go. But he’s a scrapper that’s low maintenance, understands his role and plays his ass off, which is why you would keep him around.
The other move that is possible, that is logical, that is a bit dramatic, but not the least bit surprising – would be designate Milton Bradley for assignment. The volatile switch hitter has been thrown out of games twice in the past week and a half, and had to serve a one-game suspension. He’s hitting .218 with a .356 slugging percentage. And his defense in left field the last week has been less than stellar. Would it make sense to just drop Milton and his $13 million salary? To many people, yes it would.
I’m still trying to figure out the corresponding roster move, but one thing is for certain Mike Wilson will be a Mariner come Tuesday in Baltimore.