The Mariners’ roster maintenance continued Tuesday with three arbitration-eligible players coming off the 40-man roster and another key player from the past two seasons opting for a new opportunity.
Right-handed relievers Anthony Bass and Matt Wisler were claimed off waivers while outfielder Keon Broxton declined his outright to Class AAA Tacoma and elected free agency. Meanwhile, first baseman Ryon Healy, who was outrighted to Class AAA Tacoma on Monday, also declined his assignment and opted for free agency.
Healy was the Mariners’ everyday first baseman in 2018 and the opening day third baseman in 2019 due to Kyle Seager’s hand injury. Seattle acquired Healy from the A’s before the 2018 season to be their starting first baseman in exchange for right-hander Emilio Pagan, who is now the closer for the Rays, and minor-league infielder Alexander Campos, who did not play last season.
A lower back injury and a subsequent hip surgery limited Healy to just 47 games in 2019. In two seasons, he played in 180 games with the Mariners, posting a .237/.280/.423 slash line with 31 doubles, 32 homers and 99 RBI. He worked just 40 walks while striking out 153 times. The power potential could never quite overcome his inability to make consistent contact. With Daniel Vogelbach locked into a roster spot, the emergence of Austin Nola and top prospect Evan White waiting to take over the first base job by midseason, Healy had no place in the organization.
The departures of Bass, Wisler and Broxton leaves the Mariners 40-man roster at 37 players. When the World Series ends, Seattle will have three more players — pitchers Felix Hernandez, Tommy Milone and Arodys Vizcaino — come off the roster as they officially become free agents. The organization also isn’t expected to pick up its $5 million team option for left-hander Wade LeBlanc, which would also make him a free agent.
Bass, who turns 32 Friday, was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays. After being released by the Reds on May 21, he was signed by the Mariners. He made 44 appearances, posting five saves in 10 opportunities with six holds and a 3.56 ERA. He struck out 43 batters and walked 17 in 48 innings pitched. Opposing hitters batted just .179 (30 for 168) against Bass this season.
Because of his service time, Bass was arbitration eligible and projected to make $1.7 million this season. Given the number of relievers available on the market each season and how he was acquired, the Mariners weren’t going to spend that much on a reliever that wouldn’t generate much of a return at the midseason trade deadline.
Wisler, 27, was in a similar situation as Bass in terms of arbitration eligibility and projected to make $1 million in salary. He was claimed by the Twins. Seattle acquired Wisler from the Padres for cash considerations on July 4 after he was designated for assignment. He pitched in 23 games, making eight starts as an opener. He went 1-2 with four holds, posting a 6.04 ERA with 29 strikeouts and six walk in 22 1/3 innings pitched.
With several of their outfielders battling injuries, the Mariners claimed the 29-year-old Broxton off waivers from the Orioles on July 27 after he was designated for assignment. He hit .115 (6 for 52) with two home runs, five RBI, eight walks, two stolen bases and 33 strikeouts in 29 games with the Mariners last season. A stellar defensive outfielder, he has some value as a fourth outfielder but it’s unlikely any team will offer him a Major League contract.