Following a series of trades this offseason (the club has made a total of eleven), the Seattle Mariners will enter the 2017 campaign with a starting rotation more poised for durability and success than it has been in recent years.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto’s actions on Wednesday were made to essentially do one thing, and that was to acquire Drew Smyly, a task the organization fulfilled. To obtain Smyly, the Mariners first participated in a trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent speedy 23-year-old outfielder Mallex Smith — the centerpiece of the deal — and reliever Shae Simmons to Seattle for minor-league lefties Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows.
Not long after story headlines began to capture light of the Braves/Mariners trade, were they replaced with news of another trade, this one between the Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays. Smith, a member of the Mariners for no more than mere hours, was flipped to the Rays to bring back Smyly, who will serve a key part in Seattle’s rotation.
The 27-year-old Smyly has been a member of the Rays since 2014. Excluding an injury-hampered 2015 season, Smyly has logged 328.1 innings since 2014 and managed an ERA around 4.00 in the span of 58 games (55 starts), including a career-high 30 games for the club in 2016. Smyly maintained a 167:49 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 175.1 innings, across which the left-handed hurler posted a 4.49 FIP for the 68-94 Tampa Bay squad that finished in the basement of the American League East division.
The newest Mariner will be inserted into the rotation captained by six-time All-Star Felix Hernandez. Smyly is just the second southpaw, joining fellow left-hander James Paxton and a supporting cast of Hisashi Iwakuma and the recently acquired Yovani Gallardo.
As for the impact he’ll have, Smyly’s insertion to the loop of starters assists Seattle in making up for the innings lost due to the subtractions of Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns, and Wade Miley earlier in the offseason. In addition to the obvious, Smyly brings to the table success as a starter, a trait that Seattle is stocking up on.