For anyone who has ever played fantasy baseball or pretended to be a major-league general manager, Jerry Dipoto should be your idol. The man never stops trying to adjust his roster and prefers trading for pieces instead of signing them. The Seattle Mariners made two trades on Wednesday, and much like his last two trade day, the first set up the second.
In the first trade, the Mariners sent left-handed pitchers Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows to the Atlanta Braves for speedy outfielder Mallex Smith and reliever Shae Simmons. Gohara was a top pitching prospect for the M’s and is just 20 years old. Burrows was a fourth-round pick in last June’s draft. Simmons will be another available arm out of the pen for the Mariners. Last season for the Braves, Simmons appeared in seven games, tossing 6.2 innings giving up one run while striking out three. In 2014, he had a 2.91 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 21.2 innings out of the pen for Atlanta. Smith started 50 games in 2016 for Atlanta, slashing .238/.316/.365. He is 23 years old and is an athletic outfielder with speed to burn (he had 229 stolen bases in 398 career minor-league games).
While everyone was still digesting the trade between the Mariners and Braves, Dipoto made another move — his eleventh trade (and counting) of the offseason. The Mariners flipped Smith along with prospects Carlos Vargas and Ryan Yarbrough to the Tampa Bay Rays for left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly. Yarbrough pitched in Double-A Jackson in 2016 and had a record of 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA. Vargas is a 17-year-old shortstop who hit .242 in 2016 with the Mariners’ Dominican Summer League team.
The Mariners have worked all offseason to acquire a starting pitcher to replace Taijuan Walker (whom they traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks). They found their man in Smyly. The 27-year-old is entering his sixth year in MLB. He is a combined 31-27 with a 3.74 ERA in his career with both the Detroit Tigers and Rays. In 2016, he started 30 games and went 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA in 175.1 innings. Smyly will more than likely be the fourth starter for the M’s behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and James Paxton. Yovani Gallardo, who was acquired last week, will be the fifth starter. Smyly comes to Seattle with two years of club control left. Dipoto has built up the Mariners depth in the starting rotation this offseason. In addition to the five listed above, they have Ariel Miranda, Chris Heston, and Robert Whalen who have all started games in the big leagues.
With eleven trades in the books, one would think the Mariners roster couldn’t be tweaked anymore, but I’d be shocked if the M’s are done making moves before spring training. Dipoto says they could be done, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times might have said it best:
Jerry Dipoto on if the roster is set: “You might not hear from us again.”
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) January 11, 2017