Robles eager to start fresh with Mariners: 'I feel great'

Seattle adds veteran outfielder into the mix after DFA by Nationals

June 5th, 2024

OAKLAND -- said that he received multiple offers from interested teams after he was released by the Nationals on Saturday. But he ultimately decided to sign with the Mariners, based largely due to the chance to help a first-place team.

“I think the way they've been playing, the vibes that they have,” Robles said on Tuesday afternoon through an interpreter regarding his desire to link up with Seattle. “I think I'm an aggressive player. And I think that's just the way they've been playing. ... They're a tough team that's battling for first place here. And I think they’re a team that’s really on their way to making the playoffs.”

Robles’ Major League contract with the Mariners became official on Tuesday when he was added to Seattle’s active roster a few hours before their 4-3 win over the A's. In a corresponding move, the club announced that third baseman Luis Urías had cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma.

Robles was not in Tuesday’s starting lineup, but is expected to be installed as soon as Thursday’s series finale against lefty JP Sears -- or if any favorable matchups surface before then, as manager Scott Servais indicated.

“He told me to just be ready, especially when we're facing a lefty,” said Robles, who will be in the mix with righty-hitting outfielders Mitch Haniger and Dylan Moore, the latter of whom is seeing more time at second base while Jorge Polanco is sidelined.

Robles represents a low-risk addition for the Mariners, who are still trying to realize their offensive potential. He’s earning $2.65 million this year, but the Mariners are only on the hook for the prorated portion of the $740,000 league minimum. When the club saw that he was designated for assignment before clearing waivers and opting for his release, they moved quickly.

Robles is represented by Rafa Nieves of Republik Sports, who also reps Mariners ace Luis Castillo, and who has a longstanding positive relationship with president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and general manager Justin Hollander after working out Castillo’s five-year, $108 million extension in 2022.

As such, Robles is also close with Castillo and fellow Dominican Republic natives Polanco and Julio Rodríguez. He also knows third-base coach Manny Acta from their time in winter ball. So, he’s not a completely unfamiliar face, even if he’s playing for a new team for the first time in his eight-year career.

Robles’ tenure with the Nats dates back to 2013, when he signed as an amateur international free agent before blossoming into a Top 10 prospect in the game per MLB Pipeline in '17-19, when he also proved instrumental in Washington's World Series title run.

"Leaving them was a little tough for me," Robles said. "I mean, it's the organization that opened their doors for me, gave me that opportunity to realize that dream of making it here to the Major Leagues. But being here with the Mariners, I'm very excited and I'm very thankful for them for giving me the opportunity."

Robles has struggled offensively at the highest level, logging a slash line of .236/.311/.356 (.667 OPS) across 530 games. He’s consistently turned in some of the sport’s lowest exit velocities and hard-hit rates, and injuries have limited him to just 50 games since the start of 2023. He missed a little over one month earlier this season due to a left hamstring strain.

"I feel great. I feel 100 percent,” Robles said. “I think injuries are something that follow athletes everywhere. But thank God that right now I'm healthy and feeling really great.”

Robles took the 26-man roster spot of outfielder Jonatan Clase, the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline. The club wanted to allocate him more consistent playing time, as he only had seven at-bats since rejoining the team on May 24.

Urías could’ve elected free agency after clearing waivers, but doing so would’ve forced him to forfeit the remainder of the $5 million he’s earning this season. He’s been at Triple-A Tacoma since being optioned on May 24 after slashing .152/.264/.316 (.580 OPS) in 34 games with the big league team.