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Mariners trade Brad Miller, Danny Farquhar, Logan Morrison to Rays

The first move of the offseason is here, and it's a big one.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Salmon pastrami on rye. All day I'd been looking forward to my dinner, which was a fun twist on an old classic. I eschewed lunch to heighten the enjoyment of the meal (and also because woo boy I need to exercise a bit) and as I turned the antepenultimate turn on my way home my phone dinged. I did not check it, because I don't do that kind of thing anymore. I'm clean on text-checking while driving you guys. I got home and checked my phone.

My sandwich got eaten in a big damn hurry y'all, and I barely tasted it because Jerry Dipoto decided that interrupting folk about to enjoy a delicious sandwich at home is the new market inefficiency:

The cost

Danny Farquhar: After a terrific 2013 and good 2014 Farquhar declined sharply in 2015. He exhibited that perfect storm of suck that combined a decline in skill (lower K%, higher BB%) with what could just very well be some SSS bad luck (15.3% HR/FB). Still only entering his age 29 season there is plenty of reason to think, if he's healthy, Farquhar can be a useful piece in a quality major league bullpen. So long, friend, I will miss you.

Danny Farquhar Traded

Logan Morrison: When Morrison was acquired from the Florida Marlins before 2014 I winced and winced hard. Wait, I don't think you can wince hard. I winced intensely. Morrison's checkered injury history, questionable production, and extremely poor Twitter history made this seem like a horrendous fit for the Seattle area/team.

In the end Morrison indeed was an up and down player in Seattle. Unexpectedly even through those up and downs he gave me a lot of joy. Morrison drastically cut down his tweeting, and to my memory was never a source of controversy his two years in Seattle. In addition his play, while often frustrating, had an easily translatable quality to it. Mainly what I mean about that is Logan Morrison was an emotive son of a bitch on the baseball field. When he succeeded his joy burned through the screen and warmed your heart. His (regular) struggles were hard to get too angry at because he already seemed so angry himself.

In the end Morrison's poor 2015 and impending end of club control made him an untenable fit for a team in bad need of better play from 1B. I will miss Logan Morrison, and not particularly for his play. Life is strange. Thanks for the hustle, Logan.

Morrison Traded

Brad Miller: And here we are, the big piece. Brad Miller treated our imaginations like a kid treats a new pet. He nurtured it, fed it, changed its litter box regularly, and helped it grow strong and healthy. Brad Miller's combination of power and athleticism seemingly gave him as high a ceiling as any Mariner positional prospect in a decade. People like to troll RT this year and a half old tweet from Scott but I still don't disagree with it, given the context of when it was tweeted, and that Miller was treating the Cactus League like Vince Carter treated Frederic Weis:

Now some quick notes on Brad Miller:

  • Brad Miller's bat never quite seemed to develop that way it always seemed like it was about to. His ceiling as a Mariner ended up being a slightly above league average bat. That's perfectly fine for a major league SS. But Miller always seemed capable of more.
  • When I say "perfectly fine for a major league SS" it's important to remember that, whether you agree with the decision or not, all signs were pointing away from Brad Miller ever regaining the regular SS position in Seattle. With Ketel Marte's emergence, Chris Taylor's glove and Miller's erratic at best defense the 2016 Mariners were going to have to shoe horn Miller's skillset into a very non-Brad Miller shaped spot. Maybe eventually the position and Miller shape and mold themselves to an ideal fit. But I'm no scientist, I have no idea what the malleability of a Brad Miller even is.
It's a tough price to pay. I was hopeful Miller would spend the entire offseason catching 10's of thousands of flyballs and return a competent outfielder. But it looked like his best position on this roster was filled by someone else, and Jerry Dipoto decided to not wait around to see if he could learn a new position. It's a loss. I like Brad Miller. Many here love Brad Miller. He'll return to Florida, as all Floridians must, and we'll see if this becomes Asdrubal Cabrera/Adam Jones 3.0. I don't want to root against Brad, but, well, let's hope that doesn't happen. So long, Sergio.

Brad Miller Traded

The gain

C.J. Riefenhauser: Oh hey cool I totally know this guy because I'm a baseball blogger and that means I have done my own propietary study of every organization's farm system and so let me just go sort through my files......

/bumps head on open file, slips on children's toy, pours scotch....

It's weird I seem to have misplaced that one. I should really switch these over to digital but y'know age, set in my ways, etc. Anyway I guess you'll have to make due with Brendan:

Boog Powell: Okay now we're talking a bit. A 20th round draft pick in 2012 Powell is a 22 year old LHH that managed to hit enough in the Southern league (139 wRC+) to get a promotion to Triple A Durham, where he hit a far less exciting 114 wRC+. The good stuff? Powell has posted solid walk rates his entire career (never below 10.6%) and seems to have a decent hit tool. The bad? He's got very little pop, to the point where he's gonna have to be something special defensively/on the basepaths to carve out an MLB career. One of Jerry Dipoto's first edicts was that he wanted to get "more athletic in the outfield". Powell isn't a world beater as an athlete, but for a team with almost no depth in the minor leagues at outfield, he helps increase the chances of finding cheap production.

Powell Traded

Nate Karns: Here's the Rays' Brad Miller portion of the trade. Karns is a late bloomer, having just completed his rookie year at 27. The easy comparison for Mariner fans is Doug Fister, as Fister too was an unheralded prospect who gradually got better, debuted in MLB in his late 20's, and then was traded before the team that developed him bothered to find out what they really had.

Karns in 2015 showed a lot of promise. In 26 starts and 147 IP Karns struck out 145 while posting an FIP of 4.09. Now, here's what you shouldn't do. You should not compare Nate Karns to Erasmo Ramirez. No don't do it shit you did it I told you not to.

Have a beer.

Anyway, Karns struggled with walks last year (3.43 BB/9) and didn't pitch after September 8th with "forearm stiffness" but the good news is thanks to that late debut he comes with a full 5 years of club control. More than any player of the six in this trade Karns has the most attractive combination of MLB success and club control. His ceiling on a playoff team is most likely a solid 4/5 starter and innings sponge but at a league minimum salary that is potentially a boon for a Mariner organization desperate for help in any position they haven't thrown 100+ million dollar at recently.

Karns Traded

The takeaway

This trade was an exchange of strengths to fill weaknesses. The one position that Brad Miller has been able to play at the MLB level is arguably the one position the Mariners have no room for him. While Logan Morrison appeared to have no place in next year's team already, and Danny Farquhar will never be a top 10% MLB reliever, losing a player as talented as Brad Miller will always hurt.

Likewise the Rays are teeming with pitching talent. It's industry speak to say you can "never have enough pitching depth" but Tampa Bay clearly felt that their dearth of middle infielders demanded a move. Nate Karns is the kind of arm that could potentially provide the Mariners with the kind of low salary/league average+ value that the Rays themselves have used to so much success over the past decade.

The other pieces acquired in Boog Powell in C.J. Reifenhauser are probably not more than MLB longshots and organizational depth, with Powell possibly a bit more.

It's a loss. Miller is one of the site's favorites, and for an organization that always seems to struggle so mightily drafting and developing positional talent giving up one of the few homegrown talents worth a damn stings. I don't love the trade, as trading positional for pitching talent always makes me squeamish with the higher attrition rate of pitchers.

In the end it's a hell of a first splash for Dipoto, and certainly demonstrates further that he isn't afraid to cast aside the sacred cows of the Zduriencik regime. We'll have more on this trade tomorrow but for now, yeah, I can't even remember that salmon pastrami. Thanks Jerry.