Mac Williamson

Ex-Giants outfielder Mac Williamson agrees to contract in South Korea

Ex-Giants outfielder Mac Williamson agrees to contract in South Korea

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a brief cameo with the Seattle Mariners, Mac Williamson is heading much further from his first big league home. 

Williamson agreed to a deal to play with the Samsung Lions of the KBO League and will spend the remainder of his season in South Korea, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned. The 29-year-old was leaving Tuesday to meet up with the team based in Daegu, South Korea.  

Williamson has spent most of his professional life with the Giants and got a chance to win an outfield job earlier this season. After struggles at the plate, he was designated for assignment and caught on with the Mariners. Following 25 games with Seattle, Williamson was DFA'd for a second time and opted for a different opportunity overseas. 

The Lions already employee former big leaguer Darin Ruf. According to Sung Min Kim of FanGraphs, they will be releasing American pitcher Justin Haley to clear a roster spot for Williamson. The KBO is a 10-team league in South Korea known for being hitter-friendly (and bat-flip-friendly) and can often be a lucrative destination for former MLB players. 

[RELATED: Giants reportedly talking "need-for-need" trade with Rays]

Williamson is the second 2019 Giant to end up in Asia. Yangervis Solarte arrived in Japan in recent days to play for the Hanshin Tigers. 

Longtime Giants OF Mac Williamson embracing fresh start with Mariners

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USATSI

Longtime Giants OF Mac Williamson embracing fresh start with Mariners

OAKLAND -- The final at-bat of Mac Williamson's eight years with the San Francisco Giants came late on a Friday night with the team trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks by 16 runs.

Williamson struck out, and as he made the slow walk back to the dugout, he knew what was coming.

"Well," Williamson told himself. "He gone."

A few minutes later, Williamson was designated for assignment a second time. Three weeks later, he's back in the Bay Area, and back in the big leagues, this time as a Seattle Mariner, a team in a similar position offering a similar opportunity. The Mariners are looking for players who can be part of their future, and Williamson has seen pretty regular playing time since being called up June 5. 

It has been a whirlwind month in an emotional season, and as Williamson sat in the Coliseum dugout on Friday, he smiled as he looked down at the Mariners colors on his shirt.

"I catch myself referring to the Giants as 'we' still. 'We' do this or 'we' did that," he said. "I think there will always be a part of me that's a Giant. A lot of people get to play for multiple organizations, that's part of the game, and I'm excited about the new opportunity."

Few young Giants in recent years have been talked about more than Williamson, who possessed the talent to end a decades-long drought of homegrown outfield production but never fully broke through. When he got his first real chance last year, Williamson was derailed by a poorly located bullpen mound. This year, he again got an opportunity, but it was short-lived. When Williamson hit .118 through 15 games, the Giants let him go for a second time in three months. 

"It wasn't a surprise to me, honestly," Williamson said. "I would have liked to have had a longer opportunity to play, but it wasn't like I was hitting .200 and just struggling a little bit. I had two really bad games and was hitting barely over .100.

”I think that while they are trying to find pieces for the future, they're also trying to do Boch justice by giving him the best possible team that they can right now to win as many games as they can to finish up a tremendous career. He deserves that and has earned that respect, and I wasn't helping the team."

While the move wasn't a surprise, it still carried some punch. When Williamson was DFA'd at the end of the spring, he knew the Giants had done it late enough that he likely would get through waivers and stay with the organization. The second time, he knew he would elect to become a free agent. Williamson and his agent sorted through several offers after the cord was cut, ultimately choosing the opportunity with the Mariners. 

He arrived in Tacoma around 2:30 a.m. on a Tuesday night, and the next day went to the Triple-A park to take batting practice. After just one round in the cage, Williamson was pulled aside and told the big league club needed him because of injuries in their outfield and the Jay Bruce trade.

A few hours later, Williamson was sitting in the dugout in Seattle. When the Mariners started pouring it on in a blowout, he was asked if he wanted to pinch-hit. 

"I didn't have anything to lose," he said. "After a long at-bat, I ended up hitting a home run. It was kind of surreal."

Williamson's time with the Mariners has in a way mirrored his season with the Giants. He homered in his first game back from Triple-A last month but then struggled to get going. The first homer with the Mariners was a nice moment, but Williamson has just three hits in 22 at-bats with his second team.

Still, he said has felt better at the plate of late, and the Mariners have continued to give him plenty of at-bats. He's starting in left field against the A's on Friday night. 

Perhaps the breakthrough will come in Seattle, or the next stop or the one after that. Perhaps Williamson, 28, will never get there. He never quite did with the Giants. The two sides are headed in different directions, and while Williamson is sad about the way it all ended, he knows it was time.

Williamson has plenty of friends still with the Giants -- he smiled as he talked of watching Tyler Beede's outing Tuesday night -- but he has found a comfort zone in Seattle, home to former Giants like Cory Gearrin and Hunter Strickland, as well as other players Williamson has known throughout his career. 

"That was an emotional time for me, but once it was over, I was kind of able to look at the picture a little clearer and realize there would be another opportunity with a new organization and it might work out for everybody," he said of getting DFA'd a second time. "Multiple people told me that a fresh start would do me good. I talked to a bunch of people who have been in similar situations where they struggled with one organization, the organization that they came up with.

"I think there's inherent pressure to perform for the organization that gave you a chance and molded you to who you are. You want to perform for them, you want to pay them back. I definitely wanted to do that [with the Giants]. Now that I'm here in Seattle I think they've given me an opportunity to grow and continue to grow and flourish. Hopefully I can do that."

Mac Williamson signs contract with Mariners, homers in first at-bat

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AP

Mac Williamson signs contract with Mariners, homers in first at-bat

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball can sometimes be a very small world. 

Mac Williamson signed a minor league contract with the Mariners on Wednesday and was right away called up to the big leagues because outfielder Braden Bishop was placed on the injured list with a lacerated spleen. Bishop is the older brother of Hunter Bishop, drafted 10th overall by Williamson's previous team on Monday. 

Williamson was designated for assignment on the last homestand and cleared waivers over the weekend. He elected to become a free agent and apparently arrived in Tacoma on Tuesday night to join Seattle's Triple-A team. His time there was short-lived. 

Williamson played 15 games for the Giants, batting .115 with one homer before being DFA'd for the second time this season. At the time of his official release, manager Bruce Bochy said he was rooting for Williamson to catch on elsewhere and succeed. 

"I wish him the best," Bochy said. "He came up as a Giant and unfortunately it didn't quite work out like he hoped or we hoped, but I think he has good baseball left. Sometimes a change of scenery can do a lot of good."

[RELATED: Bochy struggles DFA'ing Williamson]

That change of scenery appears to have already paid dividends. Williamson hit a pinch-hit 3-run home run in his first at-bat with the Mariners on Wednesday night.

Williamson could find himself in a nice spot if he gets hot. The Mariners kicked off what is expected to be a widespread rebuild over the weekend by trading outfielder Jay Bruce to the Phillies.