Seattle Mariners – MLB Trade Rumors Mon, 16 Jul 2018 04:23:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Latest On Mariners' Pitching Search Mon, 16 Jul 2018 00:53:05 +0000
  • There was some buzz last month about the Mariners discussing a trade for Cole Hamels, though the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish hears that the Mariners’ “interest was greatly overplayed.”  Whatever talks the M’s and Rangers had about Hamels could have been simply due diligence on the part of Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto, who “checks in on every player and will never toss away any proposal immediately.”
  • The Mariners’ general need for pitching is further explored by Divish as part of his mailbag piece, as he isn’t sure Seattle will necessarily target a starter.  For one, a clear top-of-the-rotation arm may not be available.  The team’s search for such a pitcher is further complicated by the fact that some members of Mariners ownership and the upper-level management team aren’t keen on acquiring players who are only under contract for the rest of this season (i.e. Hamels or J.A. Happ, another pitcher linked to Seattle on the rumor mill.)  It should be noted that Hamels is technically under control for 2019 via a club option, though at a steep cost of $20MM.  As for a more controllable arm on a frequent Mariners trade partner, Divish doesn’t believe the M’s have the prospect depth to obtain Chris Archer from the Rays.
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    Mariners Select Matt Festa Sat, 14 Jul 2018 20:51:03 +0000
  • The Mariners have selected the contract of right-hander Matt Festa from Double-A and optioned fellow righty Christian Bergman to Triple-A, the team announced. Festa is now in position to make his M’s debut two years after they picked him in the seventh round of the 2016 draft. Now 25, Festa has been formidable in relief this year, having pitched to a 3.13 ERA with 12.51 K/9 against 1.99 BB/9 in 31 2/3 innings. He ranks as Seattle’s ninth-best prospect at
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    Mariners Place James Paxton On DL, Select Mike Morin Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:09:14 +0000 The Mariners announced today that they’ve placed lefty James Paxton on the 10-day DL due to lower back inflammation and selected the contract of righty Mike Morin from Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners also optioned Gordon Beckham and Nick Rumbelow to Triple-A, recalling righties Christian Bergman and Casey Lawrence to fill those roster spots.

    Luckily for the M’s, the Paxton injury isn’t serious. GM Jerry Dipoto told Joel Sherman of the New York Post earlier today, even, that the plan is to utilize the All-Star break to get Paxton some extra rest after back discomfort forced him from last night’s game in the first inning (Twitter link). He’s scheduled to start the Mariners’ fourth game of the second half, so it seems this is somewhat of a procedural move to get some additional fresh arms in the ’pen.

    Morin, 27, saw two games of action earlier in the season with Seattle before being outrighted off of the 40-man. He has spent the bulk of the season at Triple-A, where he owns a 3.60 ERA over 35 frames with an appealing blend of 9.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. Over 172 career innings in the bigs, Morin carries a 4.60 ERA.

    Paxton's Back Tightness Not Believed To Be Serious Fri, 13 Jul 2018 15:01:33 +0000 Mariners fans are holding their collective breath after James Paxton exited last night’s start in the first inning with an apparent injury. Per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Paxton was lifted due to some discomfort in his lower back. Clearly, this would’ve been Paxton’s last start before the All-Star break anyhow, so the plus for the team is that he’ll have an extended period of time to rest up and hopefully return in healthier form. If the Mariners want to truly be cautious with their ace, they could slot him into the back of the rotation coming out of the break, giving him extra time in an effort to ensure that his back issue is cleared up. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, though there’ll understandably be at least some apprehension around the situation until Paxton can make it through a start or two without further incident. Seattle can ill-afford to lose Paxton, who heads into the break with a 3.70 ERA, 11.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 through 119 1/3 innings.

    DL Placements: Felix Hernandez, Sean Doolittle, Josh Tomlin Tue, 10 Jul 2018 19:45:30 +0000 With several players hitting the disabled list this afternoon, we’ll round them up in this post:

    • The Mariners announced that starter Felix Hernandez will hit the DL owing to lower back tightness. It seems the idea is to afford him a longer rest by lining up the placement with the coming All-Star break, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Reliever Nick Rumbelow and infielder Gordon Beckham will head onto the active roster, with outfielder John Andreoli being optioned out. Hopefully for the M’s, a bit of a respite will allow Hernandez to bounce back in the second half. It has been a frustrating season to this point, as he has allowed 5.13 earned runs per nine over 105 1/3 innings.
    • Likewise, the Nationals announced that closer Sean Doolittle is hitting the shelf with left toe inflammation. His placement is retroactive to July 7th, meaning he’ll be eligible to return immediately after the break. The roster will get two fresh arms in Wander Suero and Austin Voth, while fellow right-hander Jefry Rodriguez was optioned after his start yesterday. As for Doolittle, it had been hoped that he would be able to return to action, but the team can ill afford an un-utilized roster spot with a tired relief corps. The club has other capable late-inning arms to turn to, though obviously the fervent hope will be that this placement will stave off any more concerning health matters.
    • Indians righty Josh Tomlin is going to the DL with a right hamstring strain, per another announcement. He’ll be replaced by Adam Plutko, who has seen seven games (including six starts) of action in the majors this year. Tomlin has struggled both before and after being bumped from the rotation. Though he hasn’t been hit quite as hard in a relief capacity, he’s still allowing a .256/.294/.538 slash to opposing hitters while working from the bullpen. The 33-year-old owns a 6.98 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 — and an unhealthy 3.9 homers per nine — over 49 total innings this year.
    Mariners Notes: Cano, Cruz Sun, 08 Jul 2018 14:21:26 +0000 Speaking with reporters (including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times) on Saturday, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was apologetic about the 80-game suspension he has been serving since mid-May. Cano tested positive for Furosemide, which is a diuretic that masks the effects of PEDs, though he suggested that he didn’t knowingly take a banned substance. “The city of Seattle has become my second home for my family and I. I’m grateful to the organization, my teammates and the fans and as you guys know, I’ve been getting tested for the last 12 seasons and I’ve never had an issue with MLB policy,” Cano said. “I was being treated for some medical ailments and I was being supervised by a doctor. But at the same time, I understand that everything that goes into my body, I’m responsible for that.”

    • Thanks in part to the presences of Gordon and Healy, not to mention Cano’s age, he may have to move to designated hitter as early as next year, Bob Condotta of KLAY 1180 AM writes. The Mariners have Nelson Cruz at DH now, but he’ll be a free agent after the season. While Cruz is having yet another outstanding campaign at the plate, he’s unlikely to land an overly long or expensive contract considering his age (38) and inability to contribute on defense, Condotta posits. As such, whether the Mariners re-sign Cruz may hinge more on roster flexibility than whether they’re interested in meeting his asking price. Bringing Cruz back would affect not only the DH situation in Seattle, but also the team’s infield and outfield pictures, as Condotta explains in his piece.
    Mariners Sign Third-Rounder Cal Raleigh Sat, 07 Jul 2018 16:14:57 +0000
  • The Mariners also struck a late deal with a third-round pick, signing Florida State catcher Cal Raleigh to a deal with a $854K bonus, as per’s Jim Callis (hat tip to’s Greg Johns).  Seattle used its remaining pool space to land Raleigh on an above-slot deal, as the 90th overall selection carried a $632.7K slot price.  Baseball America was highest on Raleigh, ranking him as the 78th-best prospect and noting that a strong junior season helped him regain some draft stock after a mediocre sophomore year.
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    Mike Marjama Retires Sat, 07 Jul 2018 02:55:30 +0000 Mariners catcher Mike Marjama has retired, according to a team announcement (h/t Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, on Twitter). That leaves the team with three openings on its 40-man roster.

    Marjama, who’ll turn 29 later this month, was originally a 23rd-round pick in the 2011 draft. He overcame the odds to make it to the big leagues, seeing action in 15 MLB contests over the past two seasons. In his 173 plate appearances this year at Triple-A, he had produced a .247/.302/.424 batting line.

    Marjama is wrapping up his playing career in order to pursue a new job with the National Eating Disorders Association, per the announcement. It seems that his pursuit of this particular line of work relates to his own prior struggles with eating disorders, as’s Greg Johns notes on Twitter. We at MLBTR certainly wish him the best of luck in this worthwhile endeavor.

    Mariners Extend Jerry Dipoto Fri, 06 Jul 2018 19:07:31 +0000 The Mariners announced today that they have agreed to a new, multi-year contract extension with general manager Jerry Dipoto. The former MLB reliever had been in the final season of the deal that he originally inked to run the baseball operations for the Seattle organization.

    Jerry Dipoto

    Terms of the new pact were not publicly released by the team. It’s not clear, then, just how long into the future Dipoto will remain under contract. But the announcement did make clear that it’s for multiple years, so presumably he has at least signed on through the 2020 campaign.

    Dipoto, previously the GM of the Angels and interim GM of the Diamondbacks, took the helm in Seattle before the 2016 season. Jack Zduriencik held the post prior to Dipoto’s arrival. As the club notes in its announcement, the Mariners have MLB’s eighth-best record (220-192) since Dipoto came on board.

    While the M’s have yet to reach the postseason — a dry spell that dates back to 2001 — they finally seem primed to do so this year. Indeed, the club is surprisingly keeping pace with the defending World Series champion Astros in the AL West, though it’d remain quite a surprise if Houston doesn’t find some separation by season’s end. Though the Mariners still have some work to do to capture a Wild Card, they entered play today with a 7.5-game lead over the Athletics.

    Dipoto says the ultimate goal remains a World Series. Though that has yet to be achieved, the club obviously determined that Dipoto remains the best option to deliver the hoped-for result.

    President/CEO Kevin Mather offered this assessment:

    “Jerry arrived here two-and-a-half years ago with a specific plan for our franchise. He has successfully executed that plan, resulting in a younger, more athletic and, most importantly, far more successful Major League team.

    At the same time, he has upgraded nearly every aspect of our overall baseball operation, improving systems, staff and communication in our Major League operations, our Player Development system, our Pro and Amateur scouting departments and our revamped High Performance Area.”

    The youth and athleticism to which Mather refers are certainly themes that Dipoto has emphasized. In that pursuit, Dipoto has earned a reputation as the game’s most active GM on the trade market. We’ve tried to keep up with his prolific swapping in our Transaction Tracker, which reflects a bevy of deals (some significant, some not) since he joined the organization.

    While critics have argued that those deals, in the aggregate, have not greatly increased the talent base in Seattle, the M’s feel they’ve boosted their overall quality while increasing flexibility and control. Certainly, Dipoto has not shied away from unique swaps in search of value. Among his most interesting swaps are the acquisition of Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger; the twostep swap that netted the club Drew Smyly; the takeover of the contract of Mike Leake; the position-changing addition of Dee Gordon; and, most recently, the early-season strike for Denard Span and Alex Colome.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mariners Release Ariel Miranda To Pursue Opportunity In Japan Thu, 05 Jul 2018 15:28:01 +0000 The Mariners have released lefty Ariel Miranda, as reflected on the transactions page. The move was made to enable Miranda to pursue an opportunity with an organization in Japan, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports on Twitter.

    While the 29-year-old Miranda spent all of 2017 in the Seattle rotation, he managed only a 5.12 ERA in 160 frames on the year. He has taken just one start in the bigs thus far in 2018 and obviously was not viewed by the club as an essential depth piece.

    For most of the present season, Miranda has worked at Triple-A. Through 45 1/3 innings, he carries a 3.97 ERA with forty strikeouts and 24 walks — numbers that largely reflect his limited prior work in the upper minors.

    Miranda originally joined the Orioles organization out of his native Cuba. He was sent to the M’s in the 2016 deadline deal that delivered Wade Miley to Baltimore.

    Mariners Notes: Cano, Erasmo Wed, 04 Jul 2018 23:31:17 +0000
  • Robinson Cano has recovered from the fracture in his right hand, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told’s Greg Johns and other reporters.  The injury sent Cano to the disabled list just a day before he was hit with an 80-game suspension for use of a banned substance, leaving him unable to return to the Mariners until August 14.  Dipoto said that Cano has been working out at Safeco Field prior to the team’s official pregame warmups, and is on track to play once his suspension his up, though it remains a bit of a mystery about Cano’s eventual role.  “I’ll talk to you about that later,” is all Dipoto said about whether Cano was open to playing elsewhere than his usual second base spot, as Dee Gordon has stepped in as Seattle’s regular option at the keystone.  Earlier this month, Dipoto said that Gordon would continue to receive work at second base in preparation for potential postseason action, so Cano (who isn’t eligible for postseason play) could see time at first base or DH.
  • In another piece from Johns, Mariners swingman Erasmo Ramirez completed another bullpen session today and is closing in on a minor league rehab assignment.  Ramirez has been limited to two games and 9 2/3 innings this season thanks to a pair of DL stints for a strained lat muscle and then a strained muscle in his shoulder.  He’ll need some time to get ramped up after being sidelined for so long, and Ramirez told Johns that he is open to pitching as a starter or a reliever.
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    Mariners Notes: Carlson, Deadline Plans Wed, 04 Jul 2018 17:10:58 +0000
  • Mariners prospect Sam Carlson is going to be out for quite some time after undergoing Tommy John surgery, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. GM Jerry Dipoto explains that the organization made every effort to keep the 2017 second-rounder off of the surgeon’s table. Ultimately, though, there was no alternative to a full replacement of his ulnar collateral ligament. As Dipoto notes, the youngster will still only be twenty years of age when he’s nearing a return, though it’s certainly possible he won’t see competitive action until the 2020 campaign.
  • While the Mariners’ new commitment to Wade LeBlanc will surely have some impact on the team’s near-future rotation planning, Dipoto also says the just-announced extension won’t constrict the organization at the deadline, as’s Greg Johns reports. Though Dipoto says he’s rather bullish on LeBlanc’s ability to remain a quality rotation piece, he also says that the club will still consider additions to bolster its starting staff. At the same time, he didn’t sound like he feels compelled to add an arm. “I think if there is an opportunity for us to expand or augment our pitching group, wherever that is, then we’re going to be attentive to that,” says Dipoto. “If there is the ability to go out and find a guy who we feel like either takes some of the inning stress off our starters in the second half or can give us that late punch at the back end of our bullpen, then we’ll go that route. And if that opportunity doesn’t present itself, we probably won’t chase it.”
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    Mariners Extend Wade LeBlanc Wed, 04 Jul 2018 00:07:23 +0000 The Mariners have announced an extension with southpaw Wade LeBlanc. It’ll include a guaranteed salary for the 2019 season and a trio of club/vesting options thereafter. LeBlanc is represented by Joe Rosen.

    LeBlanc, 33, will be guaranteed $2.75MM in total, according to reports from’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter links). That includes a $300K signing bonus and $2MM salary for 2019.

    The club options are priced at $5MM apiece and come with $450K in total buyouts. They’ll vest if LeBlanc reaches 160 innings in the immediately preceding season or 310 innings in the two prior years. If all the options are exercised and all potential bonuses and escalators are achieved, the deal could reach a total of $32MM over its four possible seasons.

    For the Mariners, the move adds three seasons of control without much in the way of risk. LeBlanc was actually slated to be eligible for arbitration in 2019, so the deal will technically buy out an arb year and give the Seattle organization control over three would-be free agent campaigns.

    Needless to say, this is rather an unusual contractual arrangement. Then again, LeBlanc isn’t a typical extension target. He’ll soon turn 34 years of age and is earning just $650K this year after joining the M’s in the middle of camp when he was released from his minors deal with the Yankees.

    Indeed, it wasn’t long ago that LeBlanc joined the MLBTR podcast to discuss his search for another MLB opportunity. He has thrown 202 frames in the majors since that time, but it wasn’t until recently that he showed enough to make an agreement of this kind seem possible.

    Thus far in 2018, LeBlanc carries a 3.38 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 72 frames for the Mariners. In addition to five relief outings, he has now taken the ball for 11 starts. That level of success isn’t likely to continue. He doesn’t throw a pitch that averages even 87 mph and has below-average rates of swinging strikes (8.8%) and groundballs (35.6%).

    That said, LeBlanc has looked like a solid MLB hurler this year. Despite the frequency of fly balls, he has not surrendered too many dingers (1.13 per nine but on a below-average 9.8% HR/FB rate). And though he has likely been fortunate on batted-ball results, his spread of Statcast numbers (.337 xwOBA vs. .309 wOBA) isn’t particularly extreme.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Notable International Prospect Signings Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:12:59 +0000 With the 2018-19 international signing period kicking off today, there will be dozens of six- and seven-figure bonuses handed out to teenage prospects, primarily out of Latin America, filtering in throughout the day today. Many of these have been in the works for quite some time, as is reflected by the fact that most of the top players’ destinations and signing bonuses have been previously reported/projected (and by the fact that the top agreements will all be reported in one swift avalanche today).

    We’ll keep track of the notable National League signings here and the notable American League signings in a separate post. Note that you can read up on each of these players with the dedicated international coverage available from Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required), Jesse Sanchez of and Kiley McDaniel & Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, each of whom has scouting info on the top echelon of international amateurs. Badler is also tracking the all of the signings from all 30 teams.

    Onto some of the more notable signings…

    Read more

    Felix Hernandez Hopes To Stay With Mariners Past 2019 Sun, 01 Jul 2018 21:52:25 +0000 Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez’s contract expires after next season, but he doesn’t expect it to be his last deal. “Oh yeah, I’ve got more years to play. I’m not going to retire,” Hernandez told Jon Heyman of Fancred, adding that he has an affinity for Seattle and would like to continue his career in the only major league city he has ever called home. Whether the Mariners feel similarly is up in the air, as Hernandez has fallen off in recent seasons since inking a seven-year, $175MM extension prior to the 2014 campaign. Hernandez was among the game’s best starters then, but he’s now sporting a career-worst 5.11 ERA over 100 1/3 innings in his age-32 season.

    Nelson Cruz Hoping To Play For Multiple Years Sat, 30 Jun 2018 17:00:45 +0000 Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz not only plans to keep playing in 2019, but Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Cruz has hopes of landing a multi-year contract as a free agent this winter.  Cruz will be an interesting test case within a market that has been increasingly unkind to veteran bat-only players over the last two offseasons.  He turns 38 tomorrow and his list of suitors is almost surely limited to American League teams since Cruz has become a full-time DH.  On the plus side, Cruz is still hitting as well as ever, with 21 homers and a .273/.358/.569 slash line through 288 PA.  Teams are increasingly preferring to rotate several players through their DH spot rather than employ a full-time designated hitter, though Cruz’s production has been so excellent in recent years that you’d think at least a couple of clubs would be willing to trade lineup versatility for a big bat.

    Report: “Increasingly Possible” Cole Hamels Is Traded Before All-Star Break Fri, 29 Jun 2018 05:17:56 +0000 FRIDAY, 12:17am: The Mariners have engaged in some “dialogue” regarding Hamels, Morosi tweets, though there’s no indication at present that they’re particularly likely to end up with him.

    THURSDAY, 8:37pm: It’s “increasingly possible” that the Rangers will strike a deal involving veteran starter Cole Hamels in advance of the All-Star break, according to’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). This year’s mid-summer classic is scheduled for July 17th.

    It has long been apparent that Hamels was in position to be traded. The Rangers stumbled out of the gates and never made up ground. Meanwhile, the 34-year-old southpaw has produced good results with good-enough peripherals. With just one option year left on his high-priced contract, he’s a clear trade candidate.

    While this evening’s report hints at some movement, much is still unknown. It’s largely unclear just which teams have interest, though there are a limited number of “buying” organizations and most of them could stand to add a rotation piece. It remains to be seen whether any will really push to get Hamels on board well in advance of the deadline. There’s no indication that a single suitor has emerged to this point.

    It is also not yet apparent how much of an obstacle Hamels’s contract situation will pose. He can block trades to twenty teams. While he indicated a willingness to facilitate a move, he also could still seek some additional inducement. Teams will surely not be enthused with the fact that Hamels is earning a hefty $22.5MM salary this season. There’s yet greater potential for complication from his $20MM club option for 2019, which comes with an unusually large $6MM buyout.

    Of course, those matters wouldn’t be quite so important were it not for the fact that Hamels is no longer the pitcher he was when the Rangers originally acquired him. We examined some of these limitations a month back. For the most part, the situation remains the same: Hamels has restored most of his lost ability to get swings and misses, but he’s giving up far too many homers and has perhaps been a bit fortunate to carry a 3.61 ERA. Opponents this year own only a .266 batting average on balls in play (well below the mark Hamels has allowed in his career) despite making hard contact at a lofty 44.1% rate (by far the highest Hamels has permitted).

    To be sure, Hamels still warranted a top spot in our recent list of the top fifty summer trade candidates. But that’s due in no small part to the fact that few high-end rental starters seem likely to be made available. Other pitchers — J.A. Happ and Tyson Ross, in particular — are arguably preferable given their strong numbers and cheaper contracts.

    In fairness, there are some factors that point in favor of Hamels, too. He has a lengthy track record as a standout pitcher and had reeled off seven-straight 200+ inning campaigns before missing some starts last season. Hamels also has ample postseason experience, carrying a composite 3.48 ERA in 98 1/3 total playoff innings.

    Jayson Werth To Retire Wed, 27 Jun 2018 18:48:16 +0000 Veteran outfielder Jayson Werth tells Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports that he will retire. He had been with the Mariners organization on a minor-league deal.

    Though Werth declined to describe the situation in precisely those terms, he told Heyman: “I’m done … whatever you want to call it.” That statement does not seem to leave much room for interpretation, so it seems fair to assume that Werth will not look to return from the hamstring injury that recently put him on the shelf at Triple-A Tacoma.

    Werth, 39, had signed on with the Seattle organization after wrapping up a seven-year, $126MM contract with the Nationals. That monster contract marked one of several turning points over Werth’s long professional career.

    Drafted 22nd overall by the Orioles in the 1997 draft, Werth did not exactly race to the majors. And he did not stick immediately upon reaching the game’s highest level. He bounced from the Baltimore organization to the Blue Jays and then on to the Dodgers, moving from behind the dish to the outfield along the way and receiving relatively meager opportunities in the majors.

    Werth posted strong numbers in a partial season of work with Los Angeles in 2004, but ended up suffering a significant wrist injury during camp in the ensuing spring. He played poorly upon returning and the issue failed to dissipate. Werth ended up missing all of the 2006 campaign and being set loose by the Dodgers.

    At that point, clearly, there was a high likelihood that Werth would simply never make good on his original promise. But he drew major-league contract offers and ultimately landed with the Phillies, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained at the time.

    Needless to say, things turned up from there. Werth ended up slashing a robust .282/.380/.506 in over two thousand plate appearances over four seasons in Philadelphia, swatting 95 home runs and swiping sixty bags along the way. He was a key piece of the organization’s magical run in that span, including a 2008 World Series victory.

    When free agency arrived, both team and player decided to make other plans — not that the Phillies fans ever forgave Werth for leaving. As MLBTR’s Zach Links wrote, it took an eye-popping number to convince him to head to D.C., a surprising decision for a Nationals organization that was then a perennial cellar dweller.

    Werth’s first season with the Nats did not go according to plan. And he missed time with a wrist injury in the one that followed. But his play picked up quite a bit. And the tide soon turned in the division, with the Washington organization rising as the Phillies fell apart. From 2012 through 2014, Werth made good on his hefty salary, posting a cumulative .303/.394/.479 slash with 46 home runs. Unfortunately, that output — and Werth’s good health — would not last. Over the final three years of his deal with the Nationals, he managed only a .233/.322/.402 batting line in 301 games.

    While postseason success wasn’t to be in D.C., Werth will be remembered well for his leadership role in an important time in the organization’s history. Now, he tells Heyman, he’ll head off to spend more time with his family — and, perhaps, take up some organic farming. Both sound like worthy pursuits, and we at MLBTR wish him the best of fortune.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    M's Once Explored Matt Boyd Trade Mon, 25 Jun 2018 03:37:43 +0000
  • Left-hander Matthew Boyd “is one of the Tigers’ most coveted players in trade talks,”’s Jon Paul Morosi writes.  Even after a rough outing against Cleveland today, Boyd still has solid overall numbers this season, with a 4.15 ERA and 7.54 K/9 through 82 1/3 innings.  Advanced metrics aren’t nearly as high on Boyd’s work, however, so Detroit could explore a trade when Boyd is at his peak value, even though he is just 27 and isn’t eligible for arbitration until this winter.  Morosi speculates that the Mariners could target Boyd based on their past attempt to trade for him in the 2016-17 offseason, when GM Jerry Dipoto offered Taijuan Walker and prospects to the Tigers for Boyd and J.D. Martinez.
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    Yankees, Mariners Interested In J.A. Happ Mon, 18 Jun 2018 15:03:57 +0000 The Yankees and Mariners are among the clubs interested in Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, tweets Jon Morosi of Happ figures to be one of the top rentals available on the starting pitching market this summer, if not the top rental, so it’s hardly a surprise to see a pair of contending clubs with some rotation question marks eyeing the 35-year-old southpaw. Presumably, most contending clubs have at least considered making a run.

    Happ is in the final season of a three-year, $36MM contract that has proven to be a bargain for the Jays. In 423 innings since signing that deal, he’s worked to a 3.36 ERA, averaging 8.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 with slightly above-average ground-ball tendencies. Happ’s 2018 season is among his best yet, as he’s sporting a career-best 10.2 K/9 mark and a 10.4 percent swinging-strike rate. Lefties haven’t stood a chance against him (.159/.188/.246), while the efforts of right-handed opponents have been relatively futile in their own right (.217/.294/.346). Cole Hamels may have Happ topped in name value, but Happ is the better pitcher and this point and looks like one of the clear prizes of the summer trade market.

    Happ is earning $13MM this season, and there’s still about $7.3MM of that sum remaining to be paid out before season’s end. That’s hardly an insignificant sum, but it’s not a backbreaking total for most contending clubs, either. And, of course, the Blue Jays could help to facilitate the trade by agreeing to pay down a portion of Happ’s remaining salary as a means of helping to extract the best possible return.

    Both New York and Seattle have had some issues in their rotation, even though both clubs have received above-average results from their starting pitching. The Yankees, for instance, recently lost left-hander Jordan Montgomery to Tommy John surgery and have received inconsistent contributions from Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka. Domingo German has not seized the fifth spot in the rotation in Montgomery’s absence.

    The Mariners, meanwhile, have received just 9 2/3 innings from Erasmo Ramirez in 2018. Felix Hernandez has been hammered for a 5.44 ERA, and while Wade LeBlanc has been terrific in the fifth starter’s role, there are questions about the 33-year-old’s ability to sustain his current level of production.

    As for the Blue Jays, despite the fact that they just completed sweeps of the Nationals and Orioles, it still seems likely that they’ll be open to selling off veteran assets this summer. Even after going 7-3 in their past 10 games, the Jays are sitting at 33-38 on the season, placing them 15 games out of first place in the American League East and a similarly daunting 12.5 games back of a Wild Card spot in the American League. Toronto also has just six games against sub-.500 teams remaining between now and the All-Star break, so their upcoming schedule doesn’t present an easy road back to contention.

    Ichiro Hoping To Make Mariners' Roster In 2019 Sun, 17 Jun 2018 03:34:29 +0000
  • Although he shifted from the diamond to a front office role with the Mariners last month, Ichiro Suzuki intends to earn a roster spot with the team in 2019, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Given that the future Hall of Famer has struggled in recent seasons (a productive 2016 with Miami notwithstanding) and will be 45 when next spring rolls around, accomplishing his goal seems like a long shot. But with the Mariners scheduled to open next season with a series against the A’s in Ichiro’s homeland of Japan, it’s worth a try.
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    Mariners Outright Mike Morin Sat, 16 Jun 2018 18:15:37 +0000 Mariners right-hander Mike Morin has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma, the club’s PR department has announced. Morin had been designated for assignment by Seattle on Thursday.

    Morin’s been an above-average reliever throughout the course of his career in terms of FIP (3.35 lifetime mar), but he’s one of those pitchers whose ERA doesn’t line up with the type of contact he induces. Morin owns a 4.60 career ERA despite excellent command of the strike zone and a strikeout rate of nearly a batter per inning. August Fagerstrom of Fangraphs once described him as having baseball’s “silliest change-up” due to the extreme velocity differential between that pitch and his fastball.

    Morin’s removal from the roster is somewhat puzzling considering he’s performed strongly between the majors and minors this year (as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted when the Mariners designated him for assignment). Perhaps the Mariners (along with all 29 other MLB clubs) were still dismayed by the 7.20 ERA he posted across 20 innings last season. Regardless, they’ll retain him within the organization and likely see him contribute again at some point this season.

    Red Sox Return Eric Filia To Mariners Sat, 16 Jun 2018 00:50:10 +0000 JUNE 15: The teams have announced that Filia will be returned to Seattle after failing his physical. Instead, Boston will receive cash considerations to complete the swap.

    JUNE 12: The Red Sox announced that they’ve acquired minor league outfielder Eric Filia from the Mariners as the player to be named later in April’s Roenis Elias trade. FanRag’s Robert Murray was the first to reports that Filia was going to the Red Sox (Twitter link).

    Filia, 25, was Seattle’s 20th-round pick back in 2016 and ranked as the No. 11 prospect in a thin Mariners farm system, per, though he missed the early portion of the season while serving a 50-game suspension due to a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He was recently activated and has batted .426/.508/.537 with a home run, three doubles and more walks (nine) than strikeouts (four) in 63 Double-A plate appearances.

    Of course, Filia is older than the average competition he’s facing in Double-A, as was the case in 2017 when he batted .326/.407/.434 with five homers in 564 plate appearances as a 24-year-old in Class-A Advanced. Filia has punched out in just 7.3 percent of his professional plate appearances, and while that’s in part a testament to the younger competition he’s faced, it’s also an undeniable testament to his above-average bat-to-ball skills. He’s also walked at a 12.3 percent clip in the minors.

    Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of laud those on-base and bat-to-ball skills, though their report also indicates that he’s limited to the outfield corners on the defensive spectrum and has “average-at-best tools” in other facets of the game. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen called him a potential bench bat in running through the Mariners’ system this offseason, noting past injury issues and recreational drug usage have slowed his path to the Majors.

    Mariners Designate Mike Morin Thu, 14 Jun 2018 22:10:31 +0000 The Mariners have designated reliever Mike Morin for assignment, per a club announcement. The club also optioned out first baseman Dan Vogelbach while adding righties Nick Rumbelow and Rob Whalen to the active roster.

    Morin, 27, had appeared twice this year for the M’s at the MLB level but spent most of his time in the Seattle organization at Triple-A. Over 25 total frames, he allowed nine earned runs and carried a strong 28:6 K/BB ratio.

    Over parts of five seasons in the majors, Morin has worked to a 4.60 ERA over 172 innings. Claimed off waivers over the winter, he was removed from the 40-man late in camp and then added back just a few days ago. Given his prior outright, Morin can refuse an assignment to Triple-A if he clears waivers.

    Dipoto On Mariners’ Plans Once Cano Returns Tue, 12 Jun 2018 02:06:00 +0000 The eighty-game suspension of Robinson Cano created an interesting situation for the Mariners, who have already responded in part by shifting Dee Gordon to second base and acquiring Denard Span. But more moves are anticipated for the surprising AL West leaders, with Cano’s return playing into the calculus, as GM Jerry Dipoto discussed with’s Jerry Crasnick.

    Lest there be any doubt, Dipoto made clear that Cano won’t simply be handed his regular job at second when he’s eligible to be activated. While the club sees Cano as “perhaps the biggest acquisition of anybody at the deadline,” per Dipoto, it’s also cognizant of the fact that he isn’t going to be eligible for a hopeful postseason berth due to his ban.

    Since the M’s will be using Gordon at second if they crack the playoffs, he’ll need to spend a good bit of time there late in the regular season. That could set the stage for some sort of “time-share,” says Dipoto, who also notes that the plans will “be dictated by where we are in the standings.” Presumably, that could mean leaning on Cano more if it’s necessary to squeeze out every last win — which certainly may be the order of the day given the level of top-level competition in the divisional and Wild Card races.

    Dipoto acknowledged that there’s still quite a lot of ground to cover before the team can begin sketching out postseason lineup cards. As he put it, “First, we have to continue to play well. If we start to get too far ahead of ourselves in allocating playing time in late August and September as we sit here in June, that’s probably not the wisest thing to do.”

    That said, the plans for Cano and Gordon have implications for the team’s deadline planning. It’s certainly possible that Cano could spend time at first base, where the M’s have received middling production. Perhaps that would leave the team free to focus its resources — including the untapped portion of the money saved on Cano’s forfeited salary — on boosting its pitching staff more than filling out the lineup. While the organization would still need to have a plan in place for managing a Cano-less postseason, that general approach might maximize its chances of making it to the dance in a top-heavy American League.

    Mariners Agree To Sign Second-Rounder Josh Stowers Mon, 11 Jun 2018 03:30:36 +0000
  • The Mariners have agreed to terms second-round pick Josh Stowers, MLB Trade Rumors has learned.  The deal is worth $1.1MM, slightly less than the $1,287,800 slot price attached to the 54th overall pick.  Stowers caught fire late in the college season, which apparently rose his stock enough in Seattle’s eyes to merit a selection that substantially outpaced his pre-draft rankings — Law and Fangraphs didn’t include Stowers in their top-100 and top-130 lists, respectively, while Baseball America (124th) and (146th) also delivered modest evaluations.  The Louisville outfielder overcame his early-season struggles once he smoothed out his swing, and BA’s scouting report notes that “he doesn’t have one key carrying tool, but the sum of his parts gives him upside.”  Long-term questions remain about Stowers’ power and his ability to stick as a center fielder.
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    Mariners Place Nicasio, Altavilla On Disabled List, Select Morin Sun, 10 Jun 2018 15:26:49 +0000 SUNDAY: Altavilla has a Grade 1 flexor mass strain in his right forearm, manager Scott Servais told Greg Johns of and other reporters Sunday. He’ll “be down a little while” as a result, Servais added (Twitter link).

    FRIDAY: The Mariners announced Friday that they’ve placed right-handers Juan Nicasio and Dan Altavilla on the disabled list, recalled first baseman Dan Vogelbach from Triple-A Tacoma and selected the contract of right-hander Mike Morin. Nicasio is dealing with right knee effusion, while Altavilla’s injury is more troubling: a sprained right ulnar collateral ligament.

    It’s another hit to the Seattle bullpen depth, which serves to underscore the importance of their early acquisition of Alex Colome in last month’s swap with the Rays. Nicasio and Altavilla will join David Phelps (Tommy John surgery), Nick Vincent (strained groin) and Erasmo Ramirez (strained Teres major) on the shelf for the time being. Seattle also recently just bit the bullet on an ill-fated two-year deal for left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, cutting the veteran southpaw loose and eating the remainder of this year’s $5.5MM salary in the process.

    There’s no indication that Nicasio’s injury is especially serious, though the Mariners neglected to disclose a timeline on either newly injured hurler. An “effusion,” though, refers to swelling and a build-up of fluid around the knee joint. For Altavilla, the perils of any UCL injury are well known, and while the categorization of a sprain is better than news of a full or significant tear, a “sprain,” by definition, would indicate that there’s at least a minor degree of tearing/stretching in that ligament.

    Altavilla has given the Mariners 20 2/3 innings of 2.61 ERA ball with a 23-to-15 K/BB ratio, while Nicasio has been mostly solid but had a pair of meltdowns that skew his numbers (two outings of four runs allowed). He’s sporting an ugly 5.34 ERA but a 2.56 FIP and a brilliant 37-to-2 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 frames this year.

    Seattle will turn to the 27-year-old Morin in an attempt to patch the latest bullpen holes. The right-hander debuted with the Angels in 2014 and turned in a brilliant rookie season (2.90 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 43.9 percent grounder rate in 59 innings), but he’s struggled in the Majors ever since. Seattle plucked him off waivers from the Royals back in December and later outrighted him to Tacoma. He’s been quite good there to open the season, logging a 3.24 ERA with 28 punchouts against six walks while allowing just one homer in 25 innings of work. The addition of Morin gives the Mariners a full 40-man roster.

    Vogelbach, meanwhile, returns to the Mariners for another look at big league pitching. He’s struggled in limited looks at MLB opponents but has crushed Triple-A pitching at a .304/.445/.643 clip through 146 plate appearances so far in 2018.

    Mariners Release Marc Rzepczynski Wed, 06 Jun 2018 18:59:50 +0000 The Mariners announced today that they have released lefty Marc Rzepczynski. He had recently been designated for assignment.

    It’s no surprise to see the 32-year-old clear waivers following the DFA. After all, he hasn’t performed up to the $5.5MM salary he’s promised this year. The M’s will foot that bill the rest of the way, excepting any league-minimum earnings he achieves if he can make it back to the majors elsewhere.

    That said, other organizations will surely be glad to add some experienced left-handed relief depth, particularly if they have mechanical or tactical tweaks in mind to get Rzepczynski back to effectiveness. He has struggled mightily in 2018, and wasn’t very effective last year either, but has limited opposing lefties to a .222/.323/.333 batting line over his career.

    Rays Notes: Archer, Banda, Pitching, Mariners, Trades Mon, 04 Jun 2018 01:53:55 +0000 Here’s the latest from Tropicana Field…

    • Chris Archer will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of his injured groin, he told’s Erik Erickson and other reporters.  The injury cropped up during Archer’s start on Saturday, and the Rays ace said the problem was still bothering him today.  Given the timeline, Archer said it was “questionable” whether he’d make his next scheduled start.  Losing Archer would be another blow to a Rays team that has been scrambling for arms due to injuries and their unique usage of regular bullpen days, not to mention the potential impact it could have on Archer’s value as a potential trade chip at the deadline.
    • In further ominous injury news, the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin reports (Twitter link) that southpaw Anthony Banda will visit with team doctors after being placed on the Triple-A disabled list due to a forearm strain.  Acquired as the primary piece in the three-team trade that sent Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks last offseason, Banda has posted solid numbers at Triple-A this season and also made three MLB appearances for the Rays (one official start and two relief outings behind “openers” Sergio Romo and Ryne Stanek).  Forearm injuries are always cause for concern, particularly since Tampa Bay has already lost youngsters Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell to Tommy John surgery within the last few months.
    • Rays senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom recently spoke with The Athletic’s Juan Toribio (subscription required) about the team’s controversial “bullpen day” strategy and the usage of relievers to “start” games by pitching an inning before turning things over to a multi-inning pitcher.  Bloom said the front office has been “encouraged” by the results thus far, and very pleased with how the players and coaching staff have bought into the idea.  Despite the relative success thus far, however, Bloom said the Rays won’t necessarily stick with the pitching strategy going forward.  “I think time will tell, but we don’t want to shoehorn a group of players into a certain model just to say that we’re doing it….I think potentially if you have a different group of players with different strengths and weaknesses, you might do something different,” Bloom said. “But what we wanted to get away from was kind of doing the opposite, where I think previously the mindset was that no matter what the strength and weaknesses are of our player group, we’re going to force them to be in the so-called traditional model. We wanted to take an approach of, let’s assess the strengths and weaknesses of our group, and then try and figure out a way to build this in a way that gives them the best chance.”
    • The recent deal that sent Denard Span and Alex Colome to Seattle stands out as perhaps the biggest of the nine trades between the Rays and Mariners since Jerry Dipoto became Seattle’s GM in September 2015.  The close relationship between Dipoto and Rays GM Erik Neander plays a large role, though Topkin expands on that topic as part of a larger piece about how Tampa Bay approaches trades in general.  For instance, the Rays send several scouts to analyze another team’s player (or players) to get a variety of opinions before targeting someone in talks.  The club also puts a particular focus on scouting the lower levels of the minors to find hidden gems; several players acquired from the Mariners, in fact, have been unheralded names who eventually cracked the big leagues.
    Mariners Sign Daniel Schlereth Sun, 03 Jun 2018 03:49:47 +0000
  • The Mariners have signed left-handed reliever Daniel Schlereth to a minor league deal, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Schlereth spent the previous few weeks with the independent Long Island Ducks, who signed him May 10. Now 32, Schlereth was once a promising prospect, evidenced in part by the fact that the Diamondbacks chose him 26th overall in the 2008 draft. He made his Arizona debut a year later, though the club then traded him (and Max Scherzer) to Detroit in the ensuing offseason as part of a blockbuster deal that also included the Yankees. Schlereth stayed with the Tigers through 2012, the last time he saw major league action. In all, he has posted a 4.35 ERA with 8.81 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9 across 93 big league innings.
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    Mariners Sign Ross Detwiler, Tyler Higgins Sat, 02 Jun 2018 03:33:40 +0000
  • Former MLB hurler Ross Detwiler is joining the Mariners organization, per an announcement from the Atlantic League. The 32-year-old had been pitching with the York Revolution, In his nine years in the majors, Detwiler has compiled 578 innings of 4.36 ERA pitching. Detwiler isn’t the only pitcher moving from the Atlantic League to Tacoma. Righty Tyler Higgins, who was with the New Britain Bees, will be doing the same. The former Marlins farmhand has never previously pitched above the Double-A level.
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    Mariners Designate Marc Rzepczynski Fri, 01 Jun 2018 19:08:48 +0000 The Mariners announced today that they have designated southpaw Marc Rzepczynski for assignment. His MLB roster spot will go to fellow lefty Roenis Elias, who has been recalled from Triple-A.

    Rzepczynski, 32, had signed a two-year deal with the Seattle organization before the 2017 season. He’s earning $5.5MM this season under that contract.

    Needless to say, the signing has not really turned out as hoped. This year, he has recorded just 7 2/3 innings in his 18 appearances, allowing eight earned runs on 13 hits while carrying a brutal 10:9 K/BB ratio.

    Like most of his prior employers, the M’s have tried to limit Rzepczynski to facing left-handed hitters. And he has largely held them in check, as opposing southpaw swingers own a .222/.323/.333 slash against him this year. But Rzepczynski has been completely helpless in 2018 when facing righties, who have gone 7-for-11 with two home runs and five walks.

    That sort of output represents a problem even for a LOOGY, as it’s hard to avoid righties altogether. Rzepczynski has been tagged for a .280/.386/.438 cumulative lifetime slash by hitters that carry the platoon advantage, which has been at least palatable enough given the sub-.600 OPS he has allowed over his career to lefties.

    Beckham Can Decline Optional Assignment In Favor Of Free Agency Fri, 01 Jun 2018 17:30:54 +0000 The Mariners optioned Gordon Beckham to Triple-A Tacoma last night, but as a player with five years of Major League service time, he’ll have the ability to decline the optional assignment in favor of free agency. It doesn’t appear that Beckham has made up his mind yet, as’s Greg Johns tweets that the Mariners are hopeful he’ll decide to remain in the organization but apparently have not yet been informed whether he’ll report. The veteran 31-year-old hit just .206/.270/.235 in 39 plate appearances with Seattle, but he raked at a .300/.412/.500 pace in 114 plate appearances at the Triple-A level prior to having his contract selected earlier this season.

    Mariners Notes: Colome Trade, Herrmann Thu, 31 May 2018 03:02:21 +0000
  • Corey Brock of The Athletic takes a fascinating look at how a pair of 23-year-old first-year employees in the Mariners’ analytics department helped plant the seeds of the surprising Alex Colome/Denard Span acquisition (subscription link). David Hesslink and Skylar Shibayama led a collaborative effort to brainstorm as many different trade possibilities as they could when looking at the team’s newfound financial resources (following Robinson Cano’s suspension) and thin farm system, eventually presenting the framework of the deal to GM Jerry Dipoto. Director of analytics Jesse Smith tells Brock that the trade scenario resonated “like a light bulb clicked” with Dipoto, who went to work pursuing the deal and hammering out the financial component of the swap once the Rays proved interested. Brock’s column also takes a look at Hesslink’s unusual path to the team. The MIT grad was pursued by multiple clubs for a front office role but settled on going to Seattle after the team agreed to draft him in the 34th round and let him pitch professionally before moving to the operations side of the game if that didn’t pan out. The column provides an excellent look at the inner-workings of an unusually early trade of significance and the collaborative process the contributes to many deals throughout the league.
  • The Mariners announced tonight that they’ve placed catcher Chris Herrmann on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained right oblique muscle and recalled fellow catcher David Freitas from Triple-A Tacoma in his place. Herrmann appeared in just one game for the Mariners upon having his contract selected from Tacoma over the weekend, and he’ll now be shelved for a fair amount of time, it seems, given the fact that oblique injuries can often keep players on the shelf for upwards of a month. Mike Zunino and Freitas have shouldered the bulk of the workload behind the plate for the Mariners this season, but neither has provided much in the way of offense. Zunino does have eight homers, though he’s also registered an ugly .242 on-base percentage.
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    Mariners, Jayson Werth Agree To Delay Opt-Out Date Tue, 29 May 2018 17:13:46 +0000 The Mariners have agreed with outfielder Jayson Werth to delay the opt-out date in his minor-league agreement, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Werth joined the organization in late March after wrapping up a seven-year run with the Nationals.

    Werth’s deal had included an opt-out opportunity yesterday, per the report. But it was agreed that the date would be pushed back since Werth had recently experienced a hamstring injury. It is not known when the new opt-out opportunity will arise.

    Since he has joined the roster at Triple-A Tacoma, Werth has appeared in 27 games and turned in a .219/.315/.417 slash over 111 plate appearances. He has four home runs with a 28:12 K/BB ratio.

    Needless to say, those aren’t overwhelming offensive numbers, particularly for a player who just turned 39 and has struggled in the big leagues in recent years. Still, Werth might have earned a MLB promotion had it not been for the M’s recent acquisition of his former outfield mate Denard Span. And he could still be considered for a bench role at some point if an injury arises or if the club decides it would like to have a right-handed-hitting complement for Span.

    Twins Claim Taylor Motter Mon, 28 May 2018 18:07:31 +0000 The Twins have claimed infielder Taylor Motter off waivers from the Mariners, per announcements from both teams. Motter will report to the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate.

    Motter, whom the Mariners designated on Sunday, will now join his third major league organization. Motter debuted with the Rays in 2016 and has since racked up 390 plate appearances at the game’s highest level. While Motter hasn’t hit much (.198/.269/.326), he has done his best to offset a lack of offense with defensive versatility. The 28-year-old is primarily a shortstop, but he has also totaled at least 10 games’ experience at every corner position and second base.

    Motter has spent most of this season at Triple-A, and given that he has an option remaining, he’s able to serve as minors depth without issue. But it’s possible he’ll eventually get an opportunity at short in Minnesota, where starter Ehire Adrianza has been woeful at the plate.

    Poll: Which Surprise Team Has Best Shot At Playoff Berth? Mon, 28 May 2018 15:55:54 +0000 As the 2018 MLB season nears the one-third mark, the playoff races in each league are beginning to take shape. While it’s no surprise that the majority of the sport’s so-called super teams have lived up to the billing thus far, several unexpected contenders may be emerging to challenge for postseason berths. None of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates were popular playoff picks entering the campaign, but all are in contention at this point, and a few of those teams even possess elite records.

    The most successful of those clubs has been Seattle, which is one of just five teams with a winning percentage above .600. The Mariners have raced to a 32-20 mark (.615), the fourth-best record in the American League, even though they’ve had to go without superstar second baseman Robinson Cano for two weeks and won’t get him back in the near future. Cano suffered a fractured right hand in mid-May, but the 80-game suspension he incurred almost immediately after that injury is the more costly blow because it’ll render him ineligible for the playoffs – if the Mariners qualify, that is.

    A postseason berth for Seattle would be its first since 2001, thus snapping the longest playoff drought in American sports. There’s clearly plenty of work for that to happen, particularly for a team that hasn’t been spectacular statistically and possesses a less shiny 27-25 Pythagorean record. But the Mariners’ actual record right now is so impressive that they won’t need to be great from here on out to remain firmly in the mix throughout the regular season. FanGraphs is projecting a mediocre 56-54 win-loss total over the Mariners’ final 110 games, but even in that scenario, they’d finish with 88 victories – three more than Minnesota amassed in 2017 en route to an AL wild-card berth.

    The wild card is likely the M’s only path to the playoffs, as even though they’re just one game out of the AL West race, there’s little question the reigning World Series champion Astros will pull away with the division. Given the talent in the AL, a wild-card spot will be tough to come by for the Mariners, but general manager Jerry Dipoto seemingly increased his team’s odds last week when he acquired reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays. The Mariners already owned one of baseball’s best bullpens without Colome, and his presence should make Seattle an even harder out in close games. At 15-8, the Mariners have been one of the majors’ top teams in one-run contests this season.

    Staying in the AL West, Oakland has perhaps exceeded expectations at 28-25, though it has scored fewer runs than it has allowed (234 to 237). Still, despite its underwhelming Pythagorean mark (26-27), FanGraphs is projecting an above-.500 final record for Oakland (82-80) – which would be its first such season since 2014 and could keep it in the discussion into September. However, with the Yankees or Red Sox (whichever team doesn’t win the AL East), Angels and Mariners among the teams fighting for two wild-card positions, a playoff position looks a bit unrealistic for the A’s.

    Over in the National League, both the Braves (30-21) and Phillies (29-21) have gone from serving as longtime NL East doormats to looking like two of the premier teams in the game. Milwaukee, arguably a surprise team but one that did garner some preseason hype after winning 86 games in 2017, is the lone NL club with a superior record to Atlanta and Philadelphia. And only the Cubs have a better run differential than the Braves, who have outscored their opponents by 60 (261 to 201).

    The Braves’ arduous, years-long rebuild is clearly paying dividends now, as a host of players under the age of 25 – including Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna (who’s now on the DL), Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb, Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara and A.J. Minter – have been among their driving forces this year. With that group joining a few slightly older, already established players (superstar Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte and Mike Foltynewicz, to name a few), Atlanta looks as if it’s going to be around for a long time. And it might be ready now to return to the playoffs, where it hasn’t been since 2013, though the NL East is going to be a dogfight with both the Phillies and favored Nationals (29-22) right behind the Braves.

    As for those Phillies, they own an even longer playoff drought than the Braves (six years), but that streak doesn’t look as if it’ll last much longer. Like Atlanta, Philadelphia went through a few years of suffering while simultaneously managing to stockpile young talent (Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, Seranthony Dominguez, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Scott Kingery) that has either already established itself in the majors or is in the midst of doing so. Philly’s also a sleeping giant in terms of payroll, a club capable of spending alongside other big-money juggernauts, and it’ll put that advantage to use in the coming years. It already started last winter with the expensive free-agent signings of Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, two additions which have paid off so far (Santana did endure a poor April, but he’s gotten off the mat this month).

    As with the Braves, the Phillies should be around for a while, and a playoff spot this year certainly isn’t out of the question. Although, despite their tremendous starts, FanGraphs is projecting both teams to finish with 82 wins and extend their playoff droughts.

    Baseball’s other Pennsylvania-based team, the low-payroll Pirates, lost the battle for public opinion over the winter when they traded two veteran cornerstones (Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole) for younger players and didn’t sign any free agents to major league contracts. Some Pirates fans even called for owner Bob Nutting to sell the team in the wake of those deals, but he didn’t oblige.

    Now, the Pirates are a solid 28-24 (plus-22 run) and have gotten there with some help from Colin Moran and Joe Musgrove, two players acquired in the Cole package. Fellow offseason acquisition Corey Dickerson – whom general manager Neal Huntington stole from the Rays in another trade – has been even better, while veteran holdovers Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli are also amid excellent seasons. Pittsburgh may be able to hang in the race all year, then, for the first time since 2015 – its most recent playoff berth. It’s going to be an extremely tall task to actually return to the postseason, though, with six NL teams – including the division-rival Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals – ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings and several more breathing down its neck.

    Every year in baseball, surprise teams emerge to upset the preseason apple cart. Just as the Twins, Diamondbacks and Rockies crashed the playoff party last year, at least one of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates could do it in 2018. The question is: Which team has the best chance to play into the fall?

    (poll link for app users)

    Mariners Designate Taylor Motter Sun, 27 May 2018 17:44:20 +0000 The Mariners have designated infielder Taylor Motter for assignment, the team announced. His 40-man roster spot will go to catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann, whom they selected from Triple-A Tacoma.

    Motter has been with the Mariners organization since they acquired him from the Rays in November 2016, though he may now be on his way to another franchise. With one minor league option remaining, a club could acquire Motter in a trade or via waivers and use him as depth.

    The 28-year-old Motter hasn’t impressed offensively since debuting in 2016, having recorded a .198/.269/.326 line in 390 trips to the plate. Motter brings defensive versatility, though, with major league experience at every position but catcher (including one appearance as a pitcher).

    Mariners Select Chris Herrmann Sun, 27 May 2018 17:35:38 +0000 The Mariners have selected catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann from Triple-A, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. The club sent fellow catcher David Freitas to Triple-A in a corresponding 25-man move, though the Mariners will still need to create a 40-man spot for Herrmann.

    The 30-year-old Herrmann is in the Mariners’ starting lineup Sunday, which will be his first major league action of the season. He previously played in the majors with the Twins (2012-15) and Diamondbacks (2016-17), combining for a .202/.278/.344 line in 811 plate appearances. Herrmann remained with the D-backs organization through the offseason, but they released him in late March and he quickly hooked on with the Mariners on a minors pact.

    Herrmann earned his promotion to the Mariners with a solid offensive showing in Tacoma, where he opened 2018 with a .266/.424/.444 line and six home runs across 177 PAs in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Freitas fared decently at the MLB level, meanwhile, with a .217/.321/.304 slash in 55 trips to the plate. But for now, he’ll cede the role of Mike Zunino’s backup to Herrmann.

    Jean Segura, Nick Vincent Dealing With Injuries Sun, 27 May 2018 16:02:49 +0000
  • The surging Mariners picked up another win Saturday to move to 31-20, though they may have lost a couple important contributors in the process. Shortstop Jean Segura exited after being kicked in the head, and manager Scott Servais said afterward that he’d enter concussion protocol, while reliever Nick Vincent departed with a strained right groin (Twitter links via Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times). A DL stint seems like a good possibility for Vincent, who ranks third among Mariners in relievers in innings (22) and has logged a 4.09 ERA with 9.41 K/9 against 2.45 BB/9. The Mariners will presumably know more Sunday on Vincent and Segura, one of their offensive catalysts. Segura has slashed .329/.345/.469 with four home runs and 12 stolen bases in 226 PAs this season.
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    Padres Lack Interest In Mariners' Farm System Sun, 27 May 2018 04:51:20 +0000
  • Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski has drawn trade interest, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reported before the Mariners-Rays swap. It seems the Mariners tried for Jankowski prior to landing Span, but according to Divish, the Padres didn’t show much interest in the M’s low-ranked farm system. Known mostly for his speed and defense, the 26-year-old Jankowski has gotten off to a .313/.382/.400 start at the plate in 89 attempts this season. He’s controllable through the 2021 season.
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    Mariners Acquire Alex Colome, Denard Span Sat, 26 May 2018 00:26:43 +0000 7:24pm: The Mariners will receive $4.75MM from the Rays, per Tim Booth of the Associated Press (via Twitter), an amount that rather significantly alters the math of the trade.

    5:16pm: In a stunning early-season swap, the Mariners have acquired reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times originally reported on Twitter. Righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero will go to Tampa Bay in return, as Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter) first reported.

    An as-yet-unknown amount of cash is also going to Seattle in the swap. Reliever David Phelps, who is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, was moved to the 60-day DL to open a roster spot.

    M’s GM Jerry Dipoto has overseen his fair share of surprising swaps since taking the helm in Seattle, and this certainly rates near the top of the list. The club is off to a nice start (29-20), but just lost Robinson Cano for eighty games (and the postseason) due to a suspension and Dee Gordon for a stretch due to a broken toe.

    Of course, the Cano suspension also freed up around $11MM in cash for the organization to deploy elsewhere. The new additions are earning $11MM (Span) and $5.3MM (Colome) for the season, so they are owed almost exactly that amount (around $11.2MM) the rest of the way. (There could still be some Cano savings left over, as we don’t yet know how much cash the Rays will send in the deal.)

    Colome is surely the headliner of this deal. He has served as the closer in Tampa Bay for the past three seasons, racking up 95 saves in that span. He’ll be eligible for arbitration one final time over the offseason, so there’s some future value here for the M’s.

    When he moved to the bullpen full-time in 2016, Colome looked like a star. But he wasn’t quite as exciting last year, when he carried a 3.24 ERA but managed only 7.8 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 for the year. Of particular note, his swinging-strike rate dropped to a less-than-dominant 11.6% level.

    It has been something of the opposite story thus far in 2018. Colome sports only a 4.15 ERA but has struck out 9.6 and walked 3.3 batters per nine while carrying a 54.5% groundball rate. A low strand rate (65.4%) and high BABIP-against (.354) help explain the discord.

    With Colome having returned to a healthier 13.9% swinging-strike rate and continuing to deliver his typical 95.5 mph heater and ~89 to 90 mph cutter, the Mariners will bet that he returns to more dominant results in a high-leverage role. Of course, they won’t ask him to handle the ninth, which will likely remain the domain of young fireballer Edwin Diaz.

    Span has now been dealt twice in the final year of his contract. The 34-year-old no longer moves as well as he once did, but is still a polished hitter. He is off to an interesting start to the 2018 season, carrying a whopping 16.2% walk rate (well above his career average) and a typically stingy 13.9% strikeout rate. He’s producing at a solid .238/.364/.385 rate despite carrying a meager .259 batting average on balls in play and quality of contact estimates (.359 xwOBA vs. .332 wOBA) that suggest some poor fortune.

    On the other side of the agreement, the Rays have again acted to shave a fair bit of salary obligations. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the ability to move Span’s contract — which itself was acquired only to offset partially the money the Giants took on in the offseason’s Evan Longoria swap — was a strong motivating factor.

    Still, they’ll also recoup some talent here. Moore, 23, has had plenty of success in the minors and reached the big leagues last year. He’s not really regarded as a high-ceiling hurler, but could be a near-term option that fits the Rays’ current model that relies upon multi-inning relievers. Moore owns a 3.04 ERA in 50 1/3 innings this year at Double-A, allowing six home runs on 38 total hits while maintaining a 47:14 K/BB ratio.

    Romero, 20, was a 15th-round pick last year. But he has shown well thus far as a professional. In his 44 innings in the current campaign, which have come over nine starts at the Class A level, Romero owns a 2.45 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Gonzales Discusses Rehab, Curveball, Analytics Fri, 25 May 2018 03:42:03 +0000
  • 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.
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    Mariners Agree To New 25-Year Lease To Remain At Safeco Field Thu, 24 May 2018 00:17:31 +0000 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.

    Mariners Select Contract Of John Andreoli Wed, 23 May 2018 21:58:04 +0000 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.