The Mariners announced Friday evening that corner infielder Drew Ellis has been released. He’d been in camp as a non-roster invitee after being outrighted off Seattle’s roster last November.
Seattle claimed Ellis off waivers from the Diamondbacks last June. The Louisville product only played one MLB game with the M’s, going 1-3 with a strikeout. He spent 70 games at Triple-A Tacoma, hitting .231/.346/.488 with 15 home runs and a 14.2% walk rate. Ellis had posted similar numbers with Arizona’s top affiliate while playing in six big league contests for the Snakes. Despite the roughly average Triple-A production, his .141/.270/.212 line over 100 big league plate appearances led to him going unclaimed on waivers at the start of the offseason.
The M’s gave Ellis a look this spring as he looked to reestablish himself on the MLB radar. He went hitless in 17 at-bats, striking out in half of his 20 plate appearances. With Dylan Moore set to miss the start of the season due to an oblique strain, Seattle’s right-handed hitting infield depth is thinned out a couple weeks from the start of the season. Ellis’ rough exhibition showing wasn’t going to put him in position for a call-up, though, and Seattle now cuts him loose entirely.
Both Corey Brock of the Athletic and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link) suggested this evening that Moore’s injury could afford a season-opening job for non-roster invitee Mason McCoy. Like Moore and Ellis, McCoy is a right-handed hitting infielder. He’s capable of playing up the middle and coming off a .256/.332/.473 showing with 21 homers and 22 stolen bases over 503 plate appearances for Tacoma.
Ellis heads back out to free agency. Because he wasn’t on the 40-man roster, he won’t first have to clear waivers before hitting the open market. As a former second-round draftee with a .256/.374/.524 line in 826 career Triple-A plate appearances, he could find some interest on a minor league deal elsewhere.