The Mariners lost virtually no talent via free agency this offseason, re-signing their best two eligible players in Gutierrez and Iwakuma. Gutierrez’s departure would not have been a huge loss, but getting Iwakuma back after his deal with Los Angeles fell through should help the team’s rotation immensely.
However, the Mariners and Dipoto did part ways with a good amount of quality players in the many trades they made this offseason. The bullpen was hit hardest, seeing the departures of some of their relievers.
25-year-old rookie Carson Smith dazzled hitters from the AL West and beyond in 2015, racking up 70 innings working mainly as the 8th-inning man, striking out an impressive 92 batters while walking 22, good for a 2.31 ERA and 2.12 FIP. “The Bartender” Tom Wilhelmsen had another strong year in Seattle’s bullpen, racking up 62.0 innings with a 3.19 ERA. Over five seasons with the club, the 31-year-old Wilhelmsen sports a 2.97 career ERA and 3.39 career FIP in over 300.0 innings, striking out 294 and walking 140.
Danny Farquhar was disappointing in 2015, accumulating a 5.12 ERA in 51.0 innings of work, walking 3.0 batters per 9 innings and allowing nine home runs on the year. Farquhar possesses some potential, however, as he flashed above average strikeout ability in 2014, throwing 71.0 innings and fanning 81 batters to the tune of a 2.66 ERA. Farquhar’s small frame (five-foot-nine, 185 pounds) doesn’t lend itself to those kinds of numbers, and his velocity has ticked down nearly a whole MPH in each of the last two seasons, so the Mariners may have done right by swapping him when they could.
Roenis Elias is another arm who was sent packing to another city in the offseason following a mediocre 2015 in which he pitched to a 4.14 ERA in 22 games (20 starts). The 27-year-old lefty has averaged less than a hit per inning in his big-league career, but struggles with his control, owning a career 3.5 BB/9. Elias was likely not going to crack the Seattle rotation in 2016 with the emergence of fellow lefty James Paxton, so losing him is another easy pill for Seattle fans to swallow.
On offense, the Mariners saw the departure of some redundant assets, although they were all quality players. The Tampa Bay deal saw the club let go of 1B/OF Logan Morrison as well as shortstop Brad Miller. Morrison has been pretty mediocre in his major league career, accumulating 1.1 WAR over 6 seasons, while owning a slash line of .246/.326/.416 with 70 home runs and 108 doubles. Morrison’s 2015 campaign was below-average, slashing .225/.302/.383 in 511 plate appearances with 17 homers and 15 doubles. Defense is what kills his value, as he’s not a particularly good outfielder or first baseman. With the addition of guys like Lind and Clevenger, Morrison would not have fit into the 2016 lineup at all, with the DH spot firmly possessed by perennial 40-HR candidate Nelson Cruz.
Brad Miller was a bit better than Morrison in 2015, batting .258/.329/.402 with a career-high 11 home runs and 22 doubles. However, Miller struck out quite a bit, owning a 20.3% strikeout rate, second-worst among AL shortstops with 400 or more plate appearances. Like Morrison, Miller is a particularly poor defender, and didn’t even have a true position in 2015, appearing in games at every defensive position except first base and catcher. With the emergence of young Dominican shortstop Ketel Marte, Miller was a bad fit for the 2016 Mariners roster.
Mark Trumbo was the last offensive starter to leave in the offseason after having his best MLB season since he was an All-Star in 2012 with the Los Angeles Angels. Trumbo hit .263/.316/.419 in 361 plate appearances, clubbing 13 doubles and 13 home runs. Unfortunately, like Morrison, Trumbo was a poor defender, and like Miller, he struck out way too much (24.2% K rate). Going into his age-30 season, Trumbo simply doesn’t hit home runs like he used to, but still strikes out as if he did. While all three of these players are marginally productive major leaguers, Seattle did a good job making sure they had adequate replacements for all three players, so none of their departures are particularly painful.
In terms of minor leaguers, the Benoit and Lind deals cost the Mariners the most. 20-year-old Dominican hurler Enyel De Los Santos, sent to the Padres in the Benoit trade, had a solid age-19 season with the Rookie League AZL Mariners and Short-Season A Everett of the Northwest League in 2015. His ERA was a modest 3.47, but he struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings while walking 2.6 per nine. His walk numbers were higher at Low-A than Rookie ball, but if De Los Santos can improve his command with sacrificing his stuff, he could prove to be a legitimate prospect in a few years.
The trio of teenagers sent to the Brewers for Lind were Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki, and Freddy Peralta. Herrera is the youngest of the three, just 18, and posted a 3.26 ERA in 14 starts in the Dominican Summer League in 2015. Sporting a WHIP of 1.012 and a K/BB rate of 5.62, Herrera has shown he has potential at a very young age. Missaki, 19, finished his third professional season with the Clinton Lumber Kings of the Midwest League with an ERA of 3.41 and a 1.049 WHIP. Like Herrera, Missaki had good K/BB numbers, posting a mark of 6.80 in six starts (34.1 innings) before undergoing Tommy John surgery in May of 2015. Peralta, also 19 and in his third professional season, pitched 57.0 innings (11 games, 9 starts) for the AZL Mariners, earning a 4.11 ERA but a WHIP of just 1.053 and an impressive 8.38 K/BB ratio.
The last notable prospect dealt by Seattle in the offseason was Patrick Kivlehan, a right-handed corner infielder/outfielder with four years of minor league experience as high as Triple-A. In 2015 with the Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League, Kivlehan hit .256/.313/.435 with 22 home runs and 25 doubles in 512 plate appearances. While the environment of the PCL may have inflated his offensive numbers a bit, Kivlehan showed the ability to hit well at a high level of the minors and could very well appear in the majors with Texas this season.