The Red Sox announced that they’ve traded left-hander Roenis Elias to the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Boston had originally acquired Elias alongside right-handed reliever Carson Smith in a trade that sent Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to Seattle. The Mariners had two open 40-man spots prior to the trade, so they don’t need to make a corresponding move for Elias, who will report to Triple-A Tacoma.
Elias, 29, debuted with the Mariners as a 25-year-old back in 2014 and turned in a terrific rookie season, tossing 163 2/3 innings of 3.85 ERA ball with 7.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 and a 45.4 percent ground-ball rate. His sophomore season yielded comparable results in 2015, but the Mariners flipped him for a more established arm at the time in the form of Miley.
Despite his quality results in Seattle from 2014-15, Elias was a scarcely used piece in Boston. The Sox gave him just eight big league innings in total from 2016-17, and he spent most of his time with the organization in Triple-A. Elias had a solid season with Pawtucket in 2016 when he turned in a 3.60 ERA over 125 innings (19 starts, two relief appearances), but injuries limited him to just 43 innings between the Majors and minors last year.
With the Mariners, Elias will likely be shuttled between Tacoma and Seattle for much of the season and serve as a depth option for both the rotation and the ’pen, though he’s worked exclusively as a reliever with Boston this season. Given his previous success with the M’s and his solid 2016 season in Triple-A, it’s not out of the question that he could eventually claim a more permanent role on the big league roster.
The Mariners have three lefties in the Major League bullpen at present: James Pazos, Marc Rzepczynski and Wade LeBlanc. It’s still early in the season, of course, but neither LeBlanc nor Rzepczynski has come out of the gates with an especially strong start to the season. Dario Alvarez is the only other lefty reliever on the 40-man roster in the minors, so Elias provides some additional depth in that regard.
From Boston’s vantage point, Elias may simply have been a ways down the depth chart and taking a 40-man spot the team would rather allocate elsewhere. While Brian Johnson is currently the lone left-hander in the big league bullpen, southpaw options on the 40-man roster in the upper minors include Bobby Poyner, Robby Scott and Williams Jerez. Left-hander Daniel McGrath, 23, could be another eventual option who’s gotten off to a strong start in Double-A, though he’s not yet on the 40-man roster.