In what promises to be a busy off-season the Seattle Mariners have made their first addition of the off-season after primarily spending the last week cleaning out their roster.
The Mariners claimed right-handed pitcher Phillips Valdez from the Texas Rangers on Friday morning, bringing the 40-man roster to 38. Valdez stands at a 6’2″, 170 lbs and made his major league debut in 2019.
The 27-year-old righty throws a sinking fastball that sits 92-93 MPHs and touches 95 on occasion. He backs it up with an 85 mph changeup, which he throws about 35% of the time and a slider which he rarely uses.
Valdez’s fastball is rather heavy, generating spin rates that rank in the 88th percentile of all of baseball, allowing it to play up above its average velocity. His best pitch in 2019 was the changeup, where hitters hit just .154 and slugged a measly .192 against the offering.
The Mariners have taken chances on relievers with high fastball spin rates, like Austin Adams, Jesse Biddle, and Roenis Elias. Seattle also has found success bringing in pitchers with better off-speed stuff and tell them to throw it more often.
Both Valdez’s changeup and slider were quite effective in 2019 (in an incredibly small MLB sample) and the formula has worked with both Adams and Connor Sadzeck. While Valdez does show some promising traits, he is by no means guaranteed to survive the off-season on the Mariners’ 40-man roster.
If he does survive, Valdez will compete in spring training for a bullpen spot on the opening day roster. Christopher Crawford of Rotoworld speculates that Valdez could be a candidate to be used as an opener in 2020, should the team decided to go that direction. The addition of Valdez brings the 40-man roster to 38.
Valdez may be the first addition of the winter, but he certainly won’t be the last. Stay tuned.