- Mariners southpaw Marco Gonzales chatted with Corey Brock of The Athletic in an interesting Q&A about his return from Tommy John surgery, the process of reestablishing trust in his curveball and his use of data and analytics. The 26-year-old said he feels like this is “the best curveball I’ve had in my career,” explaining that because he’s largely recovered from TJ surgery, his grip strength is improved and he can throw from his natural arm slot. Gonzales, though, added that he doesn’t feel that he (or any other pitcher) can ever say he’s 100 percent recovered from such a major surgery. “It’s a constant job,” Gonzales said of managing his recovery. “And it’s something I take a lot of pride in, getting my arm ready each day. It’s 45 minutes worth of stuff each day to make sure I’m feeling good. Even on days when I don’t need to do it, I still do it because it helps me feel secure. I think that’s what the rehab process did: give me some pride and some conviction in how I go about my routine.” Gonzales has turned in a 4.05 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.84 HR/9 and a 46 percent ground-ball rate in 53 1/3 innings this season, with FIP (3.22) and xFIP (3.20) looking even more favorably upon his work.
The Mariners announced Wednesday night that the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District Board approved the terms of a new 25-year lease for the team to remain at Safeco Field. There are also a pair of three-year options on the lease that could extend the Mariners’ stay in the park all the way through 2049.
“We want this ballpark to be our home for the next 100 years,” said Mariners chairman John Stanton in a statement. “Safeco Field should be to Seattle and to the Mariners what Wrigley Field is to Chicago and the Cubs and Fenway Park is to Boston and the Red Sox. We sincerely appreciate our partnership with the PFD, who share our vision to ensure that our fans will continue to enjoy Major League Baseball in a state-of-the-art facility for decades to come.”
Full specifics of the deal are available in the team’s announcement above, but the Mariners will be contributing roughly $650MM to the PFD over the life of the lease, which will go toward rent, maintenance, improvements and a neighborhood improvement fund, among other expenditures.
The agreement for the Mariners comes at a time when many organizations are gravitating toward new (and often unnecessary) playing facilities. The Braves recently moved into SunTrust Park after just 20 seasons at Turner Field, while the Rangers are prepping to move into a new facility in 2020 despite the fact that Globe Life Park (formerly Ameriquest Field and the Ballpark in Arlington) opened in 1994. The D-backs, too, are in the nascent stages of moving into a new stadium after Maricopa County recently agreed to let the team begin searching for locations for a new facility.
The Mariners announced that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder John Andreoli from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned right-hander Dan Altavilla to Tacoma in his place. Seattle had an open spot on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move in that regard wasn’t required.
Andreoli, 28 in early June, will be making his first appearance in the Majors after spending seven seasons in the Cubs’ minor league ranks. He inked a minor league pact with Seattle back in December and has gotten off to a strong .294/.353/.452 start in Triple-A, where he hit three homers, seven doubles and two triples while also going 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
While Andreoli never ranked as one of the Cubs’ very best prospects, he has a history of strong performances and solid on-base tendencies in the minors, as evidenced by a career .261/.364/.414 slash in parts of four Triple-A seasons. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen gave him an honorable mention on last year’s ranking of the Cubs’ prospects, calling him a plus runner “with an awkward swing but a terrific feel for the strike zone.” Indeed, Andreoli has walked in 13.2 percent of his career plate appearances in Triple-A.
[Related: Updated Seattle Mariners depth chart]
The addition of Andreoli will give the Mariners some needed depth in the outfield as the team’s roster is left reeling in the wake of last week’s suspension for Robinson Cano and this week’s announcement that Dee Gordon will miss at least 10 days due to a fractured toe. With Gordon and Cano out of the lineup, the Mariners will lean on Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Mitch Haniger in the outfield, with Gordon Beckham and Andrew Romine getting action at second base. Andreoli can handle all three outfield spots, which should give manager Scott Servais a bit of flexibility when writing out the lineup card.
As for Altavilla, he’ll look to get back on track in Tacoma after an uneven start to the season. The hard-throwing 25-year-old is currently sporting a solid 3.24 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings of work, but he’s also issued a dozen walks and thrown four wild pitches.
7:17PM: Manager Scott Servais doesn’t believe Gordon will be out of action for too long, he told the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish and other media. “With his feet being such a big part of his game, we thought it was the best thing to do to let it calm down. It’s not going to completely heal in nine or 10 days, but certainly calm down enough to hopefully we can get him back sooner than later,” Servais said.
12:51PM: The Mariners announced today that outfielder/infielder Dee Gordon has been placed on the 10-day DL with a fractured big toe. He’ll be replaced on the active roster for the time being by first baseman Dan Vogelbach.
Just how long Gordon will be out is not yet known. The club says that he suffered the injury on May 9th and then reinjured it on Sunday.
This is the latest bit of unwelcome news for a Seattle organization that had just been forced into some juggling to account for an injury to and subsequent suspension of Robinson Cano. The loss of Cano had pushed the team to move Gordon back to second base.
Without Cano and Gordon, it seems the Mariners will need to roll with a combination of Gordon Beckham and Andrew Romine at second. That’s not exactly a compelling duo, though they will need to hold down the fort for a while. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently looked at the possible options outside the organization at the second-base position, but any significant trades likely won’t come together in the near future.
- Corey Brock of The Athletic takes a look at Ryan Cook’s long road back to the Majors with the Mariners after missing two full seasons due to injury (subscription link). Once a dominant reliever in Oakland, Cook discusses a tumultuous career to date that has seen some notable highs (striking out Bryce Harper and David Wright in the 2012 All-Star Game) and some difficult lows. “The most humbling part was wondering if I could ever do it again,” said Cook, who has undergone both Tommy John surgery and ulnar nerve transposition surgery in recent years. “…Those days you come back from rehab and can’t even move your arm or feel your fingers and literally just looking at yourself in the mirror and wondering if it might be over.” Cook, it seems, certainly can do it again. He posted a 2.03 ERA with a 17-to-3 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 innings of Triple-A ball this year and has already tossed two shutout innings since being selected to the MLB roster in Seattle. Manager Scott Servais, who has seen setup men Juan Nicasio and Nick Vincent struggle recently, said Cook will receive “plenty of opportunities” to re-establish himself as a high-quality ’pen option.
- Speaking of winter what-ifs, Heyman adds the Mariners, Braves, and Dodgers to the list of teams that had interest in signing Lorenzo Cain before the center fielder inked a deal with the Brewers. Seattle had a clear need for center field help prior to the Dee Gordon trade, though the other two wouldn’t seem to be obvious fits on paper for Cain’s services. The Braves already have Ender Inciarte in center, plus they needed to trade Matt Kemp to make room for Ronald Acuna’s eventual promotion; potentially, Cain could’ve been a fit if Atlanta had managed to trade Nick Markakis (and then convince Cain to shift to right field). For the Dodgers, signing Cain would have run counter to their plan of getting under the luxury tax threshold, plus L.A. would’ve had to give up two draft picks and $1MM in international bonus pool funds as compensation for signing Cain. It’s also possible, of course, that both the Braves and Dodgers merely had a due diligence-type of interest in Cain given that his free agent stint stretched into late January.
In his latest piece for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal suggests that the suspension of second baseman Robinson Cano has implications that could ripple beyond the 2018 season. Dee Gordon is expected to move from center field to second base in the interim, but could remain there even when Cano comes back, according to Rosenthal. At 35, Cano would soon be tabbed for at least part-time DH duties under normal circumstances. However, one thing that’s reportedly been staving off that possibility thus far is Cano’s goal to break Jeff Kent’s all-time record of 377 homers by a second baseman (he’s 73 bombs shy), while yet another factor is the presence of Nelson Cruz in the team’s full-time designated hitter role.
Both of those factors may not be of such significant impact next season, Rosenthal writes. Cruz has the potential to depart as a free agent after 2018, and the Mariners may not be so inclined to give Cano room in dictating his position following his violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Program. Cano, as readers probably know by now, received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a diuretic used to mask another performance-enhancing drug. That suspension will also prevent him from taking part in the postseason, which is a significant blow to a contending Mariners club.
Ideally, then, the Mariners’ objective should be to find a full-time center fielder or left fielder they can retain for multiple seasons, says Rosenthal. Such a player would effectively lock Gordon into second base for the foreseeable future, while pushing the aging Cano into a first base/designated hitter role in the latter years of his contract. Rosenthal lists Adam Duvall as a possible target for Seattle, but adds the disclaimer that the club has one of the worst farm systems in baseball and might have a difficult time acquiring the young left-fielder from Cincinnati.
On the other hand, as Bob Dutton of klay1180.com points out, it might be in the Mariners’ interests as a contender to keep Gordon in center field for the time being, unless the team can find a way to keep him at second even after Cano returns this season; a scenario that seems highly implausible with the presence of Cruz and Ryon Healy on the roster. Still, it’s hard to tell what the Mariners will do after half a season’s worth of games. From my perspective, it’s worth noting that the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline will have already come and gone by the time Cano is eligible to take the field again.
Following a series of disclaimers (including that guessing GM Jerry Dipoto’s potential targets is a “fool’s game”), Dutton lists some players who might be available at this year’s deadline, according to his sources. One obvious name is Adam Jones, who’s in the final year of his contract with an Orioles club that’s off to a disastrous 14-30 start. Other center fielders mentioned in Dutton’s blog entry include Billy Hamilton, Jon Jay and Denard Span, though on the surface none of those additions would seem worthy of forcing Cano into a role with reduced playing time.
More interesting is the pair of second baseman mentioned by Dutton. Scooter Gennett looks primed to repeat the surprise power numbers he put up with Cincinnati last season, and is controllable through 2019. Whit Merrifield, who can also play in the outfield, would be a longer-term piece and undoubtedly more difficult to acquire. In fact, I’d add that either target seems far fetched considering the Mariners’ lack of impact talent in the minor leagues.
Whatever the situation, it will certainly be interesting to see how Cano and the Mariners are impacted in 2018 and beyond. The club’s interest in contending this year and questions surrounding the roles of Gordon and Cano moving forward create an interesting juxtaposition, and it will be fascinating to watch Dipoto and co. attempt to solve the puzzle.
The Dodgers have claimed right-handed reliever Erik Goeddel off waivers from the Mariners, reports J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). He was designated for assignment earlier this week. Because he’s out of minor league options, he’ll be added to the MLB bullpen. It’s also worth noting that the Dodgers signed Goeddel’s younger brother, Tyler Goeddel, to a minor league contract yesterday, as reflected on the league’s transactions page.
The elder Goeddel, 29, had previously spent his career with the Mets organization before landing in Seattle this offseason. The righty was off to a nice start in the Seattle ’pen, tossing 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts, though he also issued five walks and threw a pair of wild pitches. His average fastball velocity, too, was down about a half mile per hour from 2017 and a mile per hour from its peak levels.
Erik entered the 2018 season with a lifetime 3.96 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 104 2/3 MLB innings, though the majority of his best work came in 2014-15. Over the past two seasons, he struggled to a 4.87 ERA at the MLB level, maintaining his penchant for missing bats but also demonstrating shaky control and a proclivity for surrendering home runs. Walks have been an ongoing issue for him throughout his minor league tenure (4.2 BB/9 in 131 Triple-A innings), but home runs haven’t plagued him in the minors.
As for the younger of the two brothers, the 25-year-old Tyler was the 41st pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and the No. 1 pick in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. The outfielder struggled with the Phillies in his lone big league season, though, hitting just .192/.258/.291 in 234 trips to the plate. He’s a career .263/.344/.358 hitter in 310 Triple-A plate appearances and had been with the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate to open the year before being released.
The Mariners announced Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of right-handed reliever Ryan Cook from Triple-A Tacoma. Fellow righty Christian Bergman, who pitched quite well in a spot start for Seattle yesterday, was optioned back to Triple-A to clear space on the roster for Cook’s promotion. The Mariners now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
This will mark the first appearance in the Majors for Cook, a former All-Star, since the 2015 season. His career has been slowed considerably by injuries in recent years, as a lat strain wiped out his 2016 season, and he underwent Tommy John surgery that October, shelving him for the entirety of the 2017 season as well.
Now 30 years old, Cook is off to an outstanding start in Tacoma, where he’s yielded just three runs on 10 hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings of work. Cook hasn’t allowed a homer so far this season, and he’s inducing grounders at a healthy 53.1 percent clip.
That sort of output was par for the course for Cook early on in his career. From 2011-14 with the A’s, he racked up 190 2/3 innings of 2.60 ERA ball, averaging 9.3 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 with average or better ground-ball rates along the way. If he’s fully healthy, he’ll be a welcome addition to the back of a Seattle bullpen that has struggled of late. Juan Nicasio, in particular, has fallen into a dreadful slump after pitching well in April.
If Cook is able to return to form, the Mariners will control him not only for the 2018 season but also through the 2019 campaign. He entered the year with four-plus years of Major League service time, so he’ll be arbitration-eligible once more this offseason.
With Tuesday’s bombshell news that Robinson Cano will be suspended for the next 80 games, the Mariners found themselves with an immediate hole at second base. With Cano under contract through 2023, and the left side of the infield spoken for by long-term assets, it’s mostly a fill-in situation.
[RELATED: Current Mariners Depth Chart]
Gordon Beckham and Andrew Romine are plugging the gap for now, but that’s likely not a sufficient pairing for a team with sights on contention. The organization has already asked Dee Gordon to begin taking grounders once again in preparation for a potential switch back to the infield, though that move is largely about creating flexibility for GM Jerry Dipoto and his staff to explore trades both in the infield and in the outfield. If the club finds a second baseman to its liking, then it seems Gordon will remain in center field, where they envisioned him playing for the next three seasons when acquiring him from the Marlins this offseason.
Obviously, there are myriad options for Dipoto & Co. to explore, as the $10.26MM they’ll save on Cano’s suspension provides the Mariners with some financial firepower to add to the roster as well. One plus for the Mariners is that with Mitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia both capable of playing center field, they don’t necessarily need to focus solely on center fielders in exploring the outfield market. Certainly, they could look to add a true center fielder, but playing Haniger there for the next couple of months and instead acquiring a corner outfielder is a perfectly viable option.
Given that context, there are very few limits on the types of players the Mariners could look to acquire in the outfield. In light of the recent track record of this front office, the club would surely weigh potential targets’ abilities to provide value both on defense and at the plate. But there are quite a lot of possibilities.
This post, then, will focus on the relatively narrower list of conceivable targets at second base. If the preference is to keep Gordon on the grass, then surely second base will be the place the Seattle organization looks first. Here are some hypothetical possibilities:
- Brandon Phillips, Free Agent: The free agent market is hardly teeming with options this time of season, though there’s one particularly notable free agent that has long been a quality regular at second base. Phillips remains unsigned and told MLB.com’s Jon Morosi last month that he hopes to continue his career and is open to playing in a utility role if need be. Certainly, the Mariners could find him everyday at-bats at second base for the next few months if they believe he’d be a good fit in the clubhouse and feel his bat can handle big league pitching at age 37 and with a considerable layoff. Phillips slashed .285/.319/.416 in 604 MLB plate appearances last season and could almost certainly be had on a relatively minimal salary. Phillips would need some time to get up to speed in extended Spring Training and/or in the minor leagues, but the Mariners obviously have time to get him the reps he needs, as Cano won’t be back until mid-August.
- Scooter Gennett, Reds: Controlled only through the 2019 season before reaching free agency and currently on one of the NL’s worst teams, Gennett stands out as a clear trade piece this summer. The Reds can obviously afford to move him sooner than that, though, with Alex Blandino and Rosell Herrera capable of stepping in at second base and keeping the seat warm for top prospect Nick Senzel. Gennett is earning $5.7MM in 2018 and has broken out with the Reds since coming over as a largely unheralded waiver claim, hitting .301/.346/.525. He’s also performing well against lefties so far this year, albeit in only a forty-plate appearance sample.
- Cory Spangenberg / Carlos Asuaje / Jose Pirela, Padres: The Friars have three MLB-ready pieces at second base, and it’s possible that none of the bunch is even their second baseman of the future. That distinction may go to prospect Luis Urias, who is not terribly far from MLB readiness himself (though Urias is almost certainly unavailable in trade). Spangenberg has the most MLB experience and is controlled through 2020, while Pirela is controlled through 2022 and Asuaje is controllable through 2023. They’ve all had some degree of MLB success but struggled in 2018, and each has experience playing multiple positions and could be a useful utility piece once Cano is back and Gordon returns to the outfield on a full-time basis. The Padres aren’t going anywhere in the NL West this season and have a fairly notable logjam on their hands here, making them a natural fit as a trade partner, though the recent decision to move on from Chase Headley does help to reduce the roster pressures.
- Logan Forsythe, Dodgers: The 31-year-old Forsythe is an undoubtedly talented player, but he’s been a disappointment in a season-plus with the Dodgers. The Mariners could absorb the remainder of his $9MM salary for the 2018 season — about $6.7MM — and perhaps part with little in the way of minor league talent. That’d help further separate the Dodgers from the luxury tax barrier, and L.A. could hand the second base reins over to Chase Utley and several other infield options.
- Neil Walker / Brandon Drury, Yankees: As a free agent who signed just this past offseason, Walker would have to consent to being traded before June 15. Drury, meanwhile, was recently optioned to Triple-A just months after being acquired, as the Yankees currently plan to go with Miguel Andujar at third and Gleyber Torres at second base. Both are valuable and affordable depth pieces for the Yankees, but there’s a definite logjam in New York’s infield. It’d be surprising to see them move on from either Walker or Drury this quickly, and it’s worth pointing out that Andujar’s low walk rate could use some refinement (thus creating the possibility for an eventual demotion that’d bring Drury back to the Bronx), but I’d imagine that Dipoto will still be reaching out to counterpart Brian Cashman to test the waters.
- Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox: A solid bat that can be trusted at multiple infield positions, Sanchez is, on one hand, the type of player you’d expect the rebuilding White Sox to want to hold onto. However, Matt Davidson’s huge showing at the plate thus far could push him into regular third base duties, and Yoan Moncada is the second baseman of the future on Chicago’s south side. There’s plenty of sense to hanging onto Sanchez and mixing him in for regular at-bats while giving Moncada and Davidson some breathers at DH, but the ChiSox could also view this as another opportunity to add some talent. While the Mariners are thin in prospects, the top of their system isn’t exactly devoid of intriguing prospects.
- Devon Travis, Blue Jays: A change-of-scenery candidate, Travis was sent to the minors recently, and the Jays are likely plenty comfortable giving Yangervis Solarte regular work at second base for the foreseeable future. Travis has persistently battled knee injuries and struggled to stay on the field, but when healthy he’s hit at a .282/.322/.447 clip for Toronto. He’s controllable for two years beyond the current campaign and is earning a modest $1.45MM after missing much of last season due to injury. He’s never played anywhere other than second base as a professional, though, so the Mariners would need to be convinced that he can handle other positions once Cano returns.
- Starlin Castro, Marlins: It’s hard to imagine that the Marlins won’t be open to trading Castro this summer, but he’s not an ideal fit with the Mariners, either. Castro is earning a total of $22MM between 2018 and 2019, and once Cano returns, they won’t have a spot for him to receive any type of consistent at-bats. Perhaps they could simply acquire him and then trade him again in the offseason, but while Castro is a perfectly logical, if not likely trade candidate this summer, he may not represent a great on-paper fit for Seattle.
There are also numerous depth-style acquisitions that could be had who’ve already been designated for assignment since Spring Training began. For those reasons, of course, such players likely won’t come with the promise of significant output. Gift Ngoepe was designated by the Jays and cleared waivers last week, while players such as Eliezer Alvarez (Rangers) and Breyvic Valera (Dodgers) were acquired on the cheap after being designated for assignment by their former organizations. Tyler Saladino has gone from the White Sox to the Brewers in exchange for cash and could be viewed as a depth add while Dipoto and his staff look for more impactful upgrades. Jace Peterson finds himself in a similar situation with the Orioles, as does Philip Gosselin, who is in Triple-A with the Braves after being claimed off waivers from the Reds. If the Mariners are not satisfied with Beckham and want to focus first on shoring things up at second, perhaps they’ll consider these and other names.