The Mariners are still looking for an arm after the not-so-awesome news on Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, and it seems they're investigating some lower-end options. The New York Post reports that the M's spent some time scouting David Phelps yesterday as he got knocked around for five hits in 2 2/3 innings. Phelps is currently competing for the 5th spot in the Yankee rotation with Michael Pineda.
Phelps is 27 and has pitched in the majors for parts of the last two seasons. He's bounced between being a starter and a reliever, and last year he wasn't particularly effective in the results-based column, surrendering a 4.98 ERA over 86.2 innings. But his peripherals were solid in 2013, posting a 3.81 FIP to go along with a 4.03 xFIP, and his batted ball profile resulted in a 3.91 SIERA, slightly worse than the year before.
You can argue that Phelps has been a victim of bad luck - he couldn't strand a runner to save his life last year, and he ran a .321 BABIP. But you can't argue he's been a victim of Yankee Stadium, because he's been sigifnicantly better at home over both years. Because of the limited sample and Phelps bouncing back and forth between starting, relieving, and the minors, it's difficult to truly evaluate what kind of production Phelps is going to provide going forward. He's historically had good control through the minors, but it's taken a step back in the majors, averaging 3.53 BB/9 compared to 2.1 BB/9 across the minors.
Phelps throws a 90 mph fastball (55%), 85 mph cutter (19%), curve (19%) and change (7%). Take a look at his arsenal at Pitcher Gifs.
At 27, Phelps seems unlikely to surprise anyone with a breakout, but the peripherals indicate that there's something perhaps undervalued. It just depends what the Mariners are willing to give up. Don't read the comments on any of these stories about the Mariners and Phelps, as you'll see fans craving Nick Franklin in exchange for Phelps. That
won't shouldn't happen. What the Mariners can give up for Phelps remains to be seen - there's not an immediate or obvious fit between them, as the Yankees greatest needs are in the infield. Maybe the M's would give up a prospect, but they shouldn't attempt to pay by Phelps' encouraging peripherals -- obviously they should try to pay on the results, which haven't been good.
The whole point of buying low is to pay low, so if the Mariners make a deal here, it shouldn't be for something too significant. Still, they do need another arm, Phelps is a good trade target to fill some innings, and he's shown the ability to pitch in relief as well, which is still another position of need for the M's. He isn't going to come dirt cheap -- the fact that he's an established arm is worth something. Maybe this does have some legs, but I have a hard time seeing where things fit on the MLB side of a deal.