The Mariners added an arm to their potential bullpen pool in Thursday's Rule 5 draft, selecting left-hander David Rollins from the Houston Astros. It's not exactly the sexiest Winter Meetings news for the M's to be coming home with, but...well...I guess...they got their guy.
Rollins has been on the Mariners' radar for quite some time, having been drafted by the organization in both 2009 and 2010 but choosing to stay in school each time in hopes of landing a better offer down the road. He got it in 2011, when he was drafted in the 24th round by the Blue Jays, and has since spent the last four years jumping around between rookie ball, A, and AA. He was traded to the Astros as part of the last J.A. Happ deal, and has thrown only one game in AAA in 2013, spending all of last year with the Astros AA affiliate.
According to Jack Zduriencik, Rollins is going to get a chance to compete for a bullpen spot in spring training, which should be a no brainer because he has to spend every day of the 2015 season on the M's 25 man roster in order to stick around. Otherwise, he's shipped back to Houston, the M's lose $25 grand, and the whole deal was for naught. Something about Rollins really captivates the Mariners, and while bringing Joe Beimel back may not have been the smartest option, Rollins is an entirely different type of gamble. They have yet to rule anything out, including signing another lefty, but this certainly seems to change the plan going forward a bit.
So what does Rollins offer? According to a scouting report over at Outside Pitch MLB, Rollins' go to pitch at this point is his 89-92 sinking fastball, and while he can mix his pitches well, he has trouble spotting up his off-speed stuff. He apparently tops out at 94-95, as a lefty. Keep in mind that the last Rule 5 lefty the Mariners took topped out at 89, and is going to be competing for the same job as Rollins next spring. Yes, this could be a lot worse.
Here's the only highlight video I can find, in which he strikes out a rehabbing Donnie Murphy in his only AAA start that should remind you that cameras positioned anywhere other than centerfield should be made illegal by major and minor league baseball alike.
So the Mariners return home from the winter meetings with one solitary acquisition. The offseason is far from over, but keep in mind that they led the entire league in projected WAR before signing Nelson Cruz. They didn't need to attach a trawling net to pick up an army of leftover fish down in San Diego.
If Rollins really is a lefty that can hit 95, he could make an already good bullpen crazy better. If he costs the Mariners -0.2 fWAR, he will be 2013 Joe Beimel. If he doesn't even make the team, he'll be a $25,000 blip on the radar on the balancing sheet of a billion dollar technology corporation. It's a good time to be Mariner. Ok, now you can complain.