The Seattle Mariners have placed 1B Ty France on the 10-day injured list with what is listed as a left elbow sprain. In a corresponding move, they have called up recent waiver claim 3D/1B/2B Drew Ellis. The move comes on the heels of France’s revelation to MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer that he had a Grade 2 flexor strain in his left forearm/elbow. France sustained the injury when Oakland Athletics infielder Sheldon Neuse careened into him on a bang bang play at first base necessitated following a blown strike three call by home plate umpire Nic Lentz.
It’s a massive blow to France, who has been the best first baseman in the American League and sits second in All-Star voting behind excellent-and-famous Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who he is nonetheless outperforming. It’s a huge blow for the Mariners, who are in the midst of a four game winning streak, their longest of the season after a disappointing couple months that have robbed them of much of their window for playoff contention. The 27-year-old has delivered a career year, leading the team in fWAR (2.3), wRC+ (157), OPS (.867), plate appearances (311), BA (.316), and, well, pretty much you name it offensively. He’s scarcely struck out, yet continued his unshiftable assault on outfield grass everywhere while enduring a league-leading 14 hit by pitches, his gift and curse. Seattle’s lineup already missing Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis, Evan White, and Tom Murphy due to injury, as well as Jarred Kelenic due to ineffectiveness, they now boast a severely uneven roster with little proven (or far over-proved) production throughout their bench and bottom of the lineup. There’s hope for France to miss little more than the initial 10-day diagnosis, but rushing hitters back with weakness in their arms is a recipe for sapping power, so Seattle will hopefully be patient in bringing back their star.
bidding adieu to Ty means bonjour to Drew Ellis, a longtime Arizona Diamondbacks prospect who finally earned big league reps over the past year and change but could not capitalize on his piecemeal plate appearances. This winter, in the pages of the Baseball Prospectus Annual, I wrote up Ellis thusly:
For evidence of the gap between Triple-A and MLB in 2021, look no further than Ellis. Whereas he demolished Triple-A pitching and converted his patient approach into power and average, big-league arms feasted on Ellis’ struggles to make contact in the zone. Ellis can boast that he overcame the odds by becoming a big-league third baseman by his third season, but he seems better suited for the chilly corner. Better contact can get Ellis to his power more often, and as a likely first baseman, maybe he can form a creaky platoon with fellow Reno masher Seth Beer.
Bad news, folks, he could not. The 26-year-old Ellis hails from the University of Louisville and brings to the table respectable power and enough plate discipline to carve out a three-true-outcome profile in some refrain. Like fellow big league roster member Kevin Padlo, Ellis has a narrow pathway to a big league role as a slugging righty with limited defensive skills, but Ellis can cover the same positions Ty France can, and Seattle has Dylan Moore and Abraham Toro to patch over the more significant defensive challenges they might face. Hopefully Ellis can make the most of his time with Seattle and showcase more power like this.