The Mariners have claimed outfielder Derek Hill off waivers from the Tigers, per announcements from both teams. He’d been designated for assignment earlier in the week. The Mariners announced they’ve designated infielder Kevin Padlo for assignment in a corresponding move.
Hill changes organizations for the first time in his pro career. The California native was a first-round pick by the Tigers back in 2014, and he’s spent the past eight years climbing the minor league ladder. He reached the majors for a cup of coffee in 2020, and he’s reappeared at the MLB level in each of the following two seasons. The righty-hitting outfielder hasn’t produced much at the plate thus far, compiling a .240/.291/.339 line with four home runs and an elevated 29.9% strikeout rate across 254 big league plate appearances.
The 26-year-old’s greater appeal lies in his speed and defensive profile. He’s a fleet-footed center fielder whom evaluators have long suggested could be a plus or better outfielder. He’s swiped nine bases in 12 attempts at the major league level, and he’s routinely pushed or exceeded 30 steals per year in the minors. That’s led to some hope he could stick as a fourth or fifth outfielder even as he’s struggled against upper level pitching, but the Tigers moved on amid a rough offensive showing in Triple-A. He’s hitting .217/.269/.325 in 30 contests at that level this season, a disappointing follow-up to a .320/.377/.504 performance over a similar amount of action a season ago.
Hill is in his final minor league option year. The Mariners can keep him at Triple-A Tacoma for the remainder of 2022, but he’ll have to break camp with the team next season or be exposed to waivers if he sticks on the 40-man roster until then.
Padlo, also 26, has changed hands a few times over the past 12 months. Seattle originally nabbed him off waivers from the Rays last August, but they designated him for assignment in April. He was traded to the Giants, again DFA and reclaimed by the Mariners. The righty-hitting corner infielder has only appeared in 10 MLB games this season between the two clubs, instead spending most of the year in Triple-A.
Through 248 minor league plate appearances this season, the former fifth-round draftee owns a .246/.327/.455 line. That’s below-average production in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but Padlo has hit very well up through Double-A in his career. His combination of power and plate discipline has caught the attention of a few teams, and rival clubs will get another opportunity to add him over the coming days. With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the M’s have no choice but to place Padlo on waivers now that he’s been taken off the 40-man roster.