Williams, 28, is undersized at 5-foot-11 and makes the most of all 195 pounds and a compact, albeit high-effort delivery. He’ll sit 94-96 mph and touch 97, but the pitch will flatten at times and the Vancouver, Washington native has below average control.
The slider, however, can be flat out nasty and gets a swing-and-miss more than 24% of the time in Williams’ 71 career big-league appearances. There’s a hard changeup deep in the arsenal, but it’s inconsistent despite having its moments in 2019.
Williams is a pure reliever and despite the sleight stature is another project with a quality arm and good athleticism for the Mariners to try and develop into something useful. It’s a move reminiscent of the transactions that landed Austin Adams, Brandon Brennan and Connor Sadzeck last season.
Williams does have an option left, so if the club isn’t in need of 40-man roster space and want to stash him to start 2020, they have that available to them.
Liriano, also 28, hit his height of prospect status in 2011 after mashing .319/.383/.499 as a 20-year-old in Class-A fore the San Diego Padres, displaying some pop and swiping 65 bags.
Since then Liriano has been stuck in neutral and the upper minors and big leagues have eaten him alive. It didn’t help he took a pitch off his face and missed all of 2016, either.
At last check, Liriano still had good bat speed thanks to strong, quick wrists, but he’s had problems staving off pitcher’s counts and has often been on the defensive. Some adjustments to the swing in 2016 and 2017 have helped him generate more leverage and leave the yard more often. But it’s also a little longer swing now with a deeper hand load, and it’s opened up the outer edge to pitchers.
He still runs well, but he’s not a burner, and the scouting reports say he’s average to above-average in center, but he still throws well.
Liriano has always been selective enough at the plate and owns a 9.4% walk rate in nearly 4,000 MiLB plate appearances.
Seattle undoubtedly is hoping to find a way to unlock the physical gifts of Liriano — like with Hanson — and thus tapping into legitimate major-league value and making a late bloomer out of the Dominican product.
Liriano could end up starting the year in Tacoma, but there’s a good chance he has a clause in his contract that gives him the right to become a free agent if he’s not on the active roster by a certain date — usually sometime in the natural first half of the season. Of course, the Mariners may not be his last stop in 2020 — or this spring, for that matter.
But the tools are there for a breakout. The question is, do the Mariners have the key to the shed?
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