The Seattle Mariners picked up journeyman outfielder and occasional first baseman Xavier Nady on a minor league deal on Tuesday according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He became a free agent two weeks ago after being designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres who had signed him to a minor league deal prior to the start of the 2014 season. In 42 plate appearances with the Padres this year, Nady owns a .135/.238/.405 line and an 82 wRC+. He also has hit three home runs on the year, two of which came at the notoriously pitcher friendly Petco Park.
The 35-year old has never been anything special as a hitter, but does have a 3.0 fWAR season under his belt when he hit .305/.357/.510 with 25 home runs in 2008 and a career 112 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Nady spent the entire 2013 campaign in the minor leagues and hasn’t seen semi-regular major league action since 2011 when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. According to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, he’ll report to Triple-A Tacoma where the Mariners will presumably take some time to assess what he can provide to an offence that’s in need of a boost — especially on the right-handed side of things. It’s unfair to expect much out of Nady at this point in his career as he joins a new organization for the ninth time, but at least he provides another option on a very slim depth chart.
Nady should represent an upgrade over Cole Gillespie on the major league roster as he’s proven to be the superior hitter in terms of both power and ability to get on base. Gillespie’s measly career 29 wRC+ against left-handed pitching has strongly limited the number of situations he’d potentially be useful in. Neither player offers much value on the defensive side of the ball, although UZR views Gillespie as an average defender in a limited 92 game sample for his career. Considering both players are essentially at the sample point on the organizational depth chart, one could argue that Gillespie, 29, has age on his side, but given Nady’s 104 career home runs and 99 wRC+, it’s easy to point to him as the superior option at the moment if the roster spot were to come down to a choice between the pair. For what it’s worth, both are right-handed hitters, making that a non-factor.
On the other hand, the club has Stefen Romero sitting on the bench in the fifth outfielder/pinch-hitter role when he probably would be better served seeing regular playing time at Triple-A. The 25-year old now has 112 plate appearances on the season and his .194/.245/.320 line suggests he may be overmatched against major league pitching right now. Prior to tonight’s tilt with the Los Angels Angels, Romero had appeared in the designated hitter role for the past five games while Corey Hart has been on the disabled list and during that time he’s managed just a pair of hits; both came last Thursday against the Houston Astros.
After a couple weeks away from game action it’s unlikely that Nady would be ready for the majors immediately and barring an emergency situation, the club will likely look to get him some at bats before potentially calling him up to take the place of one of the previously mentioned outfielders currently on the roster as. By no means does the signing mean anything’s inevitable — after all, the Padres did cut Nady loose for several reasons — but there’s definitely no harm in adding another piece that may be useful at some point down the road.
In other news, pitcher James Paxton encountered a setback in his rehab process after an MRI revealed inflammation in his left shoulder on Tuesday after he felt sore the day after his minor league rehab start on Saturday. He’s expected to be shut down for the next week and the club will determine his next step at that point in time.
Taijuan Walker is scheduled to start for the Tacoma Rainiers on Wednesday night and is slated to throw approximately 70-75 pitches according to Dutton. With Paxton’s setback, the pair of injured hurlers are approximately back on the same timeline after it looked like the left-hander was a step closer to a return before his setback — both pitchers could be back in the major league rotation around mid-June if everything goes well from here on out.