The first official trade of the MLB offseason is officially in. The first team to strike iron on the hot stove is the Seattle Mariners. It is the first official move of the new regime under the direction of recently hired general manager Jerry Dipoto. The Mariners have acquired right-handed pitcher Nate Karns, left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser and minor league outfielder Boog Powell from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for infielder/outfielder Brad Miller, first baseman Logan Morrison and right-handed reliever Danny Farquhar per reports.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) November 6, 2015
The main piece of this deal for the Mariners is undoubtedly Karns. Karns had a solid year last season when he stepped into an injury-riddled Rays’ rotation. He was a very efficient pitcher as he pitched to a 3.67 ERA across 147.0 innings of work through 26 games started as well as posting a solid 8.9 SO/9 ratio to pair with an overall 7-5 record for the 2015 season. He provides solid rotation depth to a rather thin Mariners’ rotation.
Coming with Karns to Seattle is young lefty Reifenhauser. He made a limited number of appearances out of the ‘pen last season for Rays and pitched to a bloated 5.52 ERA across only 14.2 innings of relief with an alarming 4.3 BB/9 ratio. The Mariners will clearly hope to get him to become a more consistent left-handed option out of their bullpen which ranked in the bottom of the league last year.
The last piece coming from the Rays is Powell. Ranked to be the No.13 prospect in the Tampa system by MLB.com, the young outfielder entered into 2015 hoping to put 2014 behind him when he was suspended 50 games for drug abuse. He arrived in Tampa as part of the Ben Zobrist deal and began the year in AA before getting promoted to AAA to end the year with an overall slash line of .295/.385/.392. He’s most regarded for his ability to work the count and draw walks while refraining from striking out too much, despite not having much power. He becomes an intriguing outfield prospect in the Mariners’ system.
The biggest piece for the Rays is the addition of Miller. He began the year as the shortstop for the Mariners but was then shifted into center field when they traded Austin Jackson in August. He ended the year with a .258/.329/.402 line through 144 games. He looks to give the Rays some more versatility when they construct their everyday lineup in 2016. He should most likely slide back into shortstop for Tampa with the likely departure of Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Rays are also acquiring some relief help in the form of Farquhar. After a stellar 2014 season he struggled mightily in 2015. He put up a 5.12 ERA across 51.0 innings of relief with an unsettling 3.0 BB/9 ratio. He was just not the same pitcher he was in 2014. The Rays are hoping to get a bounce-back year form the righty in order to deepen their bullpen options. The Rays were one of the teams that used their bullpens the most in 2015.
The last piece for the Rays is veteran Morrison. After an impressive 2011 campaign with the Miami Marlins, the first baseman has struggled to maintain any sort of consistency through the past few years. His 2015 resulted in an underwhelming .225/.302/.383 batting line although he did hit 17 home runs on the year. The Rays will also hope that Morrison can get back on track next season and provide some pop in the lineup.