The Mariners announced that they have acquired right-hander Riley O’Brien from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. He had been designated for assignment recently when the Reds selected Nick Lodolo to their roster. The Mariners won’t need to make a corresponding move, as a spot on their 40-man roster was recently opened up when Mitch Haniger was placed on the Covid-related injured list.
Drafted by the Rays in 2017, O’Brien was traded to the Reds at the 2020 deadline for Cody Reed. He made his MLB debut in 2021, getting a cup of coffee that lasted 1 1/3 innings. He made 22 Triple-A starts and one relief appearance last year, logging 112 2/3 innings with a 4.55 ERA, 24.7% strikeout rate, 45% groundball rate and 11.2% walk rate. Control has been a consistent drag on O’Brien’s performance thus far in his career, as he’s never posted a walk rate below 9.8% at any level.
The 27-year-old still has options remaining, meaning he’ll likely join the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers and serve as depth for the Mariners’ pitching staff. The big league rotation already has five members in Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen and Matt Brash. However, due to the shortened Spring Training this year, many teams are deploying six-man rotations or occasional spot starts from depth arms in order to weather the unusual schedule. O’Brien should be in the mix for such a role, alongside Nick Margevicius and Justus Sheffield. The club also has veteran Asher Wojciechowski in the minors, although he doesn’t currently have a roster spot. Top pitching prospect George Kirby could be an option at some point this season, although he’s started his year in Double-A and would also require a 40-man slot.