I had my alarm set for 9:30. The plan was for us to wake up at 9:30 and rush out the door for brunch, before returning home so I could ride out the final 26 hours before the deadline. I did not anticipate that the Mariners would complete a trade in the morning, and it was a complete fluke that a crow woke me up around 8:45. Awake and incapable of going back to bed, I reached for my phone, and, welp.
I have to admit, I did not think that Doug Fister would get traded. I knew he was the target of substantial interest. I knew the Mariners considered him available. But I didn't see it. After last night, I figured the M's would ship off Erik Bedard for a half-decent prospect, and that would be it for the rotation. Fister was too cheap, too effective, and under control for too long for the Mariners to find a suitable price.
But here we are, and it's done. Fister's gone. David Pauley, too. In return, the Mariners get Charlie Furbush, which, I know. They get Casper Wells, which, I know. And they reportedly get prospect Francisco Martinez and a PTBNL. Jack Zduriencik and another general manager actually reached an agreement around a cost-controlled player, and it's up to us to sort this all out.
Let's go ahead and take this on a one-by-one basis:
Doug Fister's dirt cheap and under control through 2015. We've seen him take a small step forward this season with his velocity and strikeouts, which is both interesting and unusual for a 27-year-old. What he is is an effective #3 starter. What he isn't is more than that, and it doesn't look like there's much more room for him to grow, although he's proven me wrong before. His salary does make him a great value, for now. He's a very Twins pitcher, who's now going to assume his rightful place in the AL Central, and I'm really going to miss him. Doug Fister is a good pitcher and a good dude, and this'll be an adjustment.
David Pauley's dirt cheap and under control forever, too. Unfortunately for him, he isn't the piece a lot of Mariners fans are going to miss, as almost all the attention right now is being focused on the loss of Fister. The loss of Pauley feels almost inconsequential by comparison. That isn't true - losing Pauley matters as well - but because he's a reliever who doesn't strike people out, one has to concede that Pauley isn't nearly as big a loss. He's okay, and that's about it. Pauley isn't a guy you build around, or worry about losing. Very few relievers are guys you build around, or worry about losing.
And now we get to the return. First up: Casper Wells. Wells is a 26-year-old right-handed corner outfielder who can cut it in the middle. Like Fister and Pauley, he's cheap now and under control forever. He owns an .831 Major League OPS, but that's over 224 plate appearances between two seasons, so it's of limited significance. Of course, in triple-A he's hit about the same, so maybe it's an accurate reflection after all. He is not a power hitter, but he has power. Additionally, while his walk rates are low, he isn't a hacker - he's very aggressive within the zone and reasonable about laying off pitches out of it. Limited research suggests that he's good in the field, with one more reputable source calling him "outstanding," for whatever that's worth. Overall, Wells looks to be a lower-upside sort who's decent as a starter and terrific as a backup.
Now we get to Charlie Furbush, because the Mariners couldn't lose a Fister without gaining a Furbush. Furbush is a 25-year-old lefty starter who's been mostly broken in out of the Tigers bullpen. He's only got 32.1 Major League innings under his belt, but over 54 innings with triple-A Toledo, he posted 61 strikeouts and 16 walks. It was a big step forward for Furbush from where he was in 2010, and the probable reason is because he gained velocity, pushing his fastball more consistently into the low-90s. Maybe this was a consequence of putting Tommy John surgery further in the rearview mirror, but the velocity increase seems real, and he appears to combine his fastball with a curve, a slider, and an infrequent change. Furbush's stock has been on the rise to the point where some think of him as a future #3, and while I know we had a bad experience with Luke French, Furbush has more to offer. His upside isn't huge, but then, he was dealt for Doug Fister. He could end up in the bullpen.
Finally, there's Francisco Martinez. Martinez is a 20-year-old righty third baseman who's spent the season with double-A Erie. He hasn't walked a lot, he hasn't hit for much power, and he hasn't made consistent contact, but he's very young for the league, which conjures thoughts of Carlos Triunfel. Sure enough, Martinez is the toolsy sort who's trying to put everything together, meaning some prospect lists will rate him very highly, while others won't rate him at all. Martinez is not the sort of prospect who inspires much confidence that he'll figure it out, but if he does figure it out, he could be a dangerous hitter in one of the corners. He's the guy - the one guy - in this trade with a high ceiling.
Then there's the PTBNL. Who knows!
So there you go. Fister and Pauley are gone, and Wells and Furbush are here to replace them. Martinez will report to the minors and improve the strength of the system. Note that Martinez doesn't yet have to be placed on the 40-man roster. I don't think this is a huge win. The Mariners didn't bring in a likely All-Star or impact player. But they didn't trade one, either, and concerns about Fister and Pauley's low price are offset by Wells and Furbush's low price. There's a lot of team control moving around in this deal. I'd call this trade "fine". Maybe even "pretty good". I don't know yet, because maybe there are things about Wells, Furbush and/or Martinez of which I'm currently unaware. But the Mariners traded an effective low-upside starter and an effective low-upside reliever for a low-upside outfielder and a low-upside starter, plus two prospects. That sounds all right to me, even if Fister was one of the team's more lovable players.
Thanks for everything, Doug and David. You were good Mariners, surrounded by several poor Mariners, and may you enjoy a sudden run towards the playoffs. And may one of you finally get a run or two of support.