The Mariners shuffled their roster on Friday, respectively swapping outfielder Seth Smith and right-hander Nate Karns in separate trades for right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Even after making those moves, however, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Seattle would still like to add another bullpen arm. He also notes that the Mariners plan to use a “revolving door” approach to the fifth spot in their rotation and are open to adding some inexpensive depth to accompany current candidates Ariel Miranda, Rob Whalen and Chris Heston.
As GM Jerry Dipoto explained last Friday (via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune), the organization effectively looked at their pair of trades as a four-player swap that did not significantly impact the 2017 payroll. “We still have the capacity to be creative in looking to add,” Dipoto said at the time.
The April ownership shuffle in Seattle came with talk of a potential payroll increase, and that’s already transpired to some extent. The $151MM mark at which they’re currently projected would surpass last season’s Opening Day payroll by about $9MM. Further additions could still materialize, though it sounds like they’d be made on the free-agent market rather than via trades. In speaking to Rosenthal, Dipoto stated: “At this point, we won’t move anything off our major-league club.” The gels with Dipoto’s comment in the above-linked Dutton column, in which the GM noted that the team is “always looking for ways to get deeper and a little more versatile.”
Dipoto also spoke to Rosenthal about his Friday swaps, explaining that since taking over as the Seattle GM in Aug. 2015, he’s worked to develop a more athletic mix of players. “Granted, last year (Safeco Field) was favorable to the home-run ball, but we play in a ballpark that really lends itself to running it and catching it in the outfield and creating activity on the bases…” Dipoto explained. Rosenthal notes that Dipoto believes he has five outfielders — Dyson, Leonys Martin, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia — that are capable of playing center field. That represents a significant departure from the 2015 Mariners that saw both Nelson Cruz and the now-departed Smith log significant innings in the outfield. (Cruz, of course, is still in the fold but figures to be heavily limited to DH duties in 2017.)
Regarding the Smith trade, Rosenthal writes that the flood of corner bats on the market made it difficult to trade him for any form of prospect. Seattle no longer wanted Smith’s glove in the outfield, he explains, but the presence of players like Brandon Moss and Michael Saunders in free agency made it tough to deal Smith and his $7MM salary even for a marginal prospect. Rather than dump Smith’s salary and reallocate those dollars to a bounceback candidate in free agency, then, Seattle simply dealt Smith for a pitcher it feels has a chance of returning to form (Gallardo).
If the Mariners do want to add a veteran arm that can work either in relief or out of the fifth spot in the rotation, there’s no shortage of arms available. Travis Wood, Yusmeiro Petit, Bud Norris, Scott Feldman, Jorge De La Rosa and Vance Worley are among the names on the market that have recent MLB experience in both roles.