Timothy Lamar Beckham
Height: 6'0" Weight: 210
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 01/27/1990 in Griffin, Georgia
Offseason home: Atlanta, Georgia
Acquired: Signed as a free agent (01/10/2019)
MLB Debut: 09/19/2013
Free Agent after: 2020 season
Twitter handle: @t_beckham1
If you wondered at the start of the year where all that pop in Tim Beckham's bat came from, well, now we know: steroids.
Beckham was suspended on August 6th for a failed drug test that exposed his use of Stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid. He will not play again for the M's, and as his suspension carries into next season it is an open question whether he will get another Major League contract from any team.
Beckham started the year on a tear, batting .400 with four home runs and 11 RBI through the Mariners' first 11 games. Since then, though, he has, like the Mariners generally, regressed a lot. After returning from a brief two-game hiatus due to a tight hamstring on April 10th, he's put up a far less impressive line of .174/.174/.217. That includes games against three of the premier starting pitchers in the American League, though—Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Trevor Bauer—so best not to hold this stretch against him on its own. His hot start at the plate may make a comeback.
Defensively, though, Beckham's start hasn't even been warm. As Seattle's regular shortstop, Beckham has made seven official errors already as well as numerous miscues that don't get tagged on the scorecard with an "E6." No matter how well he's swinging the bat, more poor glovework and errant throws will have fans screaming for J.P. Crawford to take over sooner rather than later.
The Mariners signed Beckham for two reasons: for infield depth/insurance, and to enable them to manipulate J.P. Crawford's service time. The M's traded for Crawford with the full intention to play him at shortstop for the foreseeable future, but thanks to a loophole in the rules, if they keep him in the minors for a month or so they can get an additional year of team control before he hits free agency. Enter Tim Beckham, who had a solid 2017 as an everyday shortstop for the Rays and Orioles and a serviceable 2018 as a utility infielder in Baltimore. He will serve as the regular shortstop in the early weeks of the season, at least, and depending on how Crawford does in Tacoma continue in that role or shift to a bench role.
Service time shenanigans or not, Beckham will be a valuable piece with Kyle Seager on the shelf for at least two months and Ryon Healy being depended on at third base. Having an experienced option for the left side of the infield might turn out to be crucial if Healy (a) continues to hit like a pitcher or (b) shows the same sort of defensive failings at third base that he did while playing there for Oakland.
Beckham impressed at the plate in the opening series in Tokyo, launching a long home run in a 5-for-7 performance over the two games.
The top overall selection in the 2008 draft, Beckham never really lived up to his prospect hype, but nevertheless remains a potentially solid bat for the lower part of the lineup. Or, maybe he's already shown his best big-league ability and he'll turn in another .230-.250 season. We'll have to wait and see. Regardless, he's here on a one-year deal and there's every reason to expect that'll be it; Crawford is the projected No. 1 shortstop and Shed Long is nearly ready for a big-league infield job.