Newly appointed Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto is continuing to wheel and deal this offseason. This time he has swung a deal with a division rival in the Texas Rangers. The Mariners have acquired center fielder Leonys Martin and right-handed reliever Anthony Bass from the Rangers in exchange for right-handed reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, outfielder James Jones and a player-to-be-named-later as reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
The center fielder had enjoyed success over the past two seasons in Texas before the 2015 season. He looked like the clear everyday center fielder for the team coming into the 2015 season. Injuries quickly sidelined him and forced the Rangers to turn to their Rule 5 draft pick Delino DeShields to step in for Martin and try to carry the load. DeShields quickly emerged as a solid everyday player and ended up taking the job of center fielder from Martin. DeShields was the everyday center fielder for the Rangers in the postseason. In the blink of an eye, Martin had become the odd man out. He finished the season with a brutal .219/.264/.313 batting line. Most of his struggles can be attributed to him just not being able to stay healthy. Unfortunately his struggles made him expendable for the Rangers going into the offseason, as there was even a question of whether or not they should tender him a contract. Instead they have shipped him to their division rivals, clearly feeling confident in the abilities of DeShields to take over as their everyday center fielder from now on. The Mariners were heavily invested in the outfielder market and looking for someone to patrol center fielder and hit at the top of their lineup. They appear to have found that in the form of Martin. Despite a rough showing in 2015, the Mariners are hoping for him to regain form and have a bounce back season this year.
Bass will most likely have a job in the Mariners bullpen come opening day. He pitched through 64.0 innings of relief and spotted a 4.50 ERA. He will most likely be used for middle relief or mop-up work out of the bullpen for the Mariners this coming season.
The Rangers are acquiring another power arm for their bullpen in the form of Wilhelmsen. The veteran reliever has been one of the most-used arms in the Seattle bullpen for the past few years. He has been asked to pitch in just about every situation imaginable, including mop-up work or closing. He has had some success as a closer with the Mariners. He had a pretty solid 2015 season, as he went 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA across 62.0 innings of relief with a 8.7 SO/9 ratio. He’s got good strikeout stuff but has also struggled with control over the course of his career. If he can get a handle on lowering his walk count, then he could become a useful late-inning option out of the Rangers’ bullpen this year. The Mariners may now seek to trade for another bullpen arm now that they have dealt one of their better power arms.
Jones represents some outfield depth for the Rangers. He did not play that much this season and appeared in only 28 games. He managed a meager .103/.161/.138 line on the year. He will either start the year in AAA or perhaps become the fourth outfielder for the Rangers and used to be a pinch-runner or defensive replacement in late-game situations. This is probably not the last deal we will see from Jerry Dipoto this winter.
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