‘NC→Samsung’ 7 wins, 4.54 ERA, Widener U.S. returns after not meeting expectations

After playing for the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions this year, Taylor Widener is returning to the United States. He signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves.

“Taylor Widener has signed a minor league contract with Atlanta,” Major League Baseball Trade Rumors (MLBTR) reported on July 21 (KST). “He is currently assigned to Triple-A, but will probably attend major league camp as a guest player.”

Weidner was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 12th round (368th overall) of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, making his first big league appearance with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2020. Weidner showed promise in his rookie year, going 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 appearances out of the bullpen, before transitioning to the starting rotation the following year and impressing.

Widener’s talent seemed to be blossoming in the 2021 season, as he went 1-0 with a 2.82 ERA in four starts in April. However, after being sidelined by injury, Widener had a very poor July, going 1-0 with a 7.82 ERA in three games, before rebounding with a 1-0 record and a 4.07 ERA in five games in August. Once again, however, injuries slowed him down.

After his second injury, Widener lost his spot in the starting rotation and was moved back to the bullpen, where he finished with a 2-1 record and a 4.35 ERA in 23 games (13 starts). Last year, he went 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 games, but he was unable to stay with Arizona and signed with the NC Dinos to play in the KBO.

NC was counting on Widener to be a one-two punch alongside “20-win, 200K MVP” Eric Pedroia (Chicago White Sox), but his performance has been disappointing. Widener didn’t make his first major league start until late May due to a back injury. While he pitched an impressive six scoreless innings in his debut, he went 1-2 with a 6.67 ERA in five games in June and was released after going 4-2 with a 4.52 ERA in 11 games.

After being released by NC, Widener appeared to be out of a job, but he rebounded. Samsung reached out to Widener when Albert Suarez, the “belly” of the ball, was sidelined with a calf injury. However, Widener failed to live up to expectations with his erratic pitching, and left the KBO with a 7-5 record and a 4.54 ERA in 21 games this year. He signed a minor league deal with Atlanta and returned to the United States.

“Widener was released by Arizona in January and most recently spent the season in South Korea. He started the season with NC but was released in August and signed with Samsung.” “Between the two clubs, Widener appeared in 21 games and pitched 115 innings with a 4.54 ERA,” the report said, noting Widener’s stats in the KBO.

“Atlanta has a starting rotation that includes Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Bryce Elder,” MLBTR continued. Widener worked out of the bullpen in 2022, but started most of the 2023 season. “We don’t know if Atlanta will favor him as a starter or in a different role, but they may like the flexibility,” he said, adding that with a minor league deal, “Widener will be a non-roster option.

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