Despite the current state of Major League Baseball and the world as a whole, the Seattle Mariners have made a roster move that is rather head-scratching.
Out of nowhere, the Mariners announced that they have placed right-handed relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala on unconditional release waivers Friday afternoon. Given that Tuivailala was projected to play a key role in the Mariners’ late-inning plans, his sudden release comes as quite the surprise.
Tuivailala was dealing with a shoulder issue this spring and was absent from Cactus League play before MLB suspended its season, though he was able to throw in a ‘B’ game on March 8. Perhaps the injury was worse than initially thought and that led to today’s decision, though the Mariners have yet to give a definitive reason for the move.
It’s possible that this is something Tuivailala’s camp requested, though it doesn’t seem all too likely that it’s to find a new opportunity elsewhere either stateside or overseas, given where the world is at right now and the travel restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s what makes this so confusing, because it doesn’t make much sense for the Mariners from a baseball standpoint, and it doesn’t make any more sense for Tuivailala from a business and career path standpoint. And it doesn’t appear that either party is interested in further elaborating on what ultimately led to all of this. It’s strange, to say the least.
Hopefully Jerry Dipoto will eventually provide an explanation to the media at a later time, but for now, the possibilities are left up in the air.
The move now puts the Mariners at 38 total players on their 40-man roster and puts another bullpen spot up for grabs for a handful of relievers remaining in their major league camp once competition starts back up, whenever that may be.