Mariners DFA catcher Zavala in move that has interesting ramifications

Jun 18, 2024, 10:02 AM | Updated: 10:03 am

Seattle Mariners Seby Zavala...

Seby Zavala of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Boston Red Sox on March 31, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners’ roster has taken an interesting turn ahead of a nine-game, three-stop road trip.

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First baseman Ty France has been reinstated from the 10-day injured list, with backup catcher Seby Zavala being designated for assignment Tuesday morning to make room on the active roster.

What makes this interesting? For one, Mitch Garver now assumes the backup catcher role less than three months into a season where he was expected to be Seattle’s primary designated hitter. And secondly, rookie first baseman Tyler Locklear remains in the big leagues presumably to split time with France at first base and potentially also DH.

It’s worth noting that France has also played third base and second base in his career (including one inning at second earlier this season), though he is returning from a right heel fracture suffered when he was hit by a pitch on June 8 at Kansas City. That HBP was the 90th for France in a Mariners uniform, breaking the career franchise record previously held by Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez.

Zavala, 30, was an offseason acquisition in the trade with Arizona that sent third baseman Eugenio Suárez to the Diamondbacks. He has appeared in 18 games with Seattle, hitting .154 (6 for 39) with a home run and two doubles.

The 33-year-old Garver started catching late last month for the Mariners, mainly when George Kirby was on the mound. As a result, Zavala has appeared in just two games since May 26, receiving only three plate appearances in that time.

Prior to coming to the Mariners, Zavala played for the White Sox (2019, 2021-23) and Diamondbacks (2023).

The 29-year-old France has a .251/.329/.403 slash line for a .732 OPS with seven home runs and 11 doubles. An All-Star in 2022, he’s looking to bounce back from a career-low slash in 2023 of .250/.337/.366 (.703 OPS).

Garver’s bat has picked up in recent weeks since he started appearing periodically behind the plate. For the year, he has a .173/.299/.347 slash for a .646 OPS with eight homers and 10 doubles, but in his last 12 games his slash is .229/.413/.571 (.984 OPS) with three homers, three doubles, 11 walks and 11 RBIs.

The 23-year-old Locklear made his MLB debut on June 9 after being called up from Triple-A Tacoma to take the roster spot of France when he hit the IL. In 29 plate appearances, he has a .222/.276/.481 slash for a .757 OPS with two homers, a double, three RBIs and one walk to 12 strikeouts. A second-round MLB Draft pick in 2022 out of VCU, Locklear has been a rising prospect since last year, cracking Baseball America’s top 100 earlier this season at No. 94.

The American League West-leading Mariners (43-31) open a three-game series in Cleveland against the AL Central-leading Guardians (44-25) at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday. Radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on Seattle Sports with the pregame show. For details on how to stream Mariners Radio Network broadcasts from Seattle Sports, click here.

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