The Mariners selected the contract of top organizational prospect Andrew Moore earlier today, and they’ve informed reporters prior to tonight’s game that Yovani Gallardo will move to the bullpen to accommodate Moore’s arrival (Twitter link via the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish). MLB.com’s Greg Johns was the first to report that Moore would take over Gallardo’s spot in the Seattle rotation.
“He’s been the definition of steady since entering the system,” GM Jerry Dipoto said of Moore, a 2015 second-rounder (link via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune). “…He’s earned an opportunity to pitch here.”
Seattle is expecting Felix Hernandez to come off the disabled list on Thursday, according to Johns, and he’ll join Moore, James Paxton, Ariel Miranda and Sam Gaviglio in the rotation for the time being. Hisashi Iwakuma is also nearing a return and could push either Gaviglio or Miranda out of a starting role, though he’s still slated to make one more rehab start in Triple-A, Johns writes. Johns also tweets an update on left-hander Drew Smyly, who is set to face live hitters on Saturday and has been progressing well through bullpen sessions.
[Related: Updated Seattle Mariners depth chart]
Acquired in a one-for-one swap that sent Seth Smith to the Orioles this offseason, Gallardo was passable for his first eight turns this season (4.53 ERA in 45 2/3 innings), but he’s been shelled for 30 runs in his past 30 innings. He’s made modest improvements in his K/9 rate (6.8), BB/9 rate (3.8) and ground-ball rate (46.3 percent) in 2017, though ERA alternatives such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA all peg him in the upper-4.00s.
While the results from Gallardo certainly aren’t what the Mariners hoped when rolling the dice on him as a rebound candidate, the offseason trade amounted to little more than a means of jettisoning Smith in favor of more defensively gifted outfield options such as Jarrod Dyson, Mitch Haniger and Ben Gamel. The two had reasonably comparable salaries, so the Mariners effectively took a one-year, $4MM gamble on Gallardo. That hasn’t panned out to date, while Smith has been a productive bat in Baltimore (.272/.350/.463).
As for Moore, he’ll jump into the rotation and hope to lock down a long-term spot among the Mariners’ starting five. He’s the organization’s No. 4 prospect, per MLB.com, and he entered the year rated seventh among Seattle farmhands by ESPN’s Keith Law, fifth by Baseball Prospectus, fifth by Fangraphs and sixth by Baseball America. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note that Moore has excellent spin rate on his 89-92 mph fastball, allowing him to generate swings and misses up in the zone despite the lack of velocity. While the scouting reports on him agree that he doesn’t come with a huge ceiling, there’s a consensus that he has a strong chance of becoming a reliable fourth or fifth starter that fills up the strike zone.
Through a combined 82 2/3 innings between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma this season, Moore has posted an excellent 2.72 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9.