The churn of the fringes of MLB rosters never stops, and on the deadline day for Rule-5 eligibility, many teams are shuffling their decks. The Mariners have gotten in on the action themselves.
Mariners have granted Stefen Romero his release so he can play in Japan— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) November 18, 2016
The former Oregon State standout and 12th round pick in 2010 has shown the ability to smash AAA pitching, consistently performing well at the plate in Tacoma. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to translate that productivity at the big league level. In 1552 career PA’s in Tacoma over the last four seasons, Romero put up a .299/.347/.514 line, with 61 home runs. That hitting sadly never made the leap, as his 233 PA’s in 93 games over the previous three seasons with the Mariners resulted in a .195/.242/.307 line that was not enough to make up for his unremarkable defense. At 28 years old, both Romero and the Mariners clearly felt it was time to move on. We at LL wish him all the best in his Japanese baseball future.
LHP David Rollins has been claimed off waivers by Chicago-NL. The #Mariners Major League 40-man roster is now at 36 players.— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) November 18, 2016
David Rollins had a fairly unceremonious tenure with the Seattle Mariners. After being selected in the Rule-5 Draft from the Astros after the 2014 season, Rollins put up a strong spring training, but was then suspended 80 games for testing positive for PEDs. He spent most of 2016 in Tacoma and struggled to be effective, posting a 7.60 ERA and a 4.94 FIP in his time with the Mariners. Acquiring lefty relievers from the Mariners has worked out well for the Cubs so far this year, but the more notable situation is that the scarcity of lefties in the bullpen has grown even greater.
#Mariners acquire inf/OFs Rickie Shaffer and Taylor Motter from Rays for Minor League RHs Dylan Thompson, Andrew Kittredge, 1B Dalton Kelly.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) November 18, 2016
This morning, the LL Staff was debating when Jerry’s next trade might come, and it appears that the answer was “while John is looking at how Stefen Romero’s stats compare to Wladimir Balentien’s.” This is not a heavy trade, but there are a couple new faces, and clearly their faces are of some note.
The 25-year-old Shaffer was the 25th pick of the 2012 draft, out of Clemson University. He was the Rays #11 prospect according to Baseball America after the 2015 season. His INF/OF designation refers to experience playing 3B, 1B, and both corner outfield spots, making him defensively analogous to the recently acquired Danny Valencia; Shaffer hits and throws righty as well. Shaffer’s shown some power, hitting 19 home runs in 244 AB’s in AAA-Durham in 2015, and also has a reputation for displaying good plate discipline. His career numbers in the minor leagues of .246/.333/.437 would indicate respectable habits.
Motter seems to fit more of the Shawn O’Malley/Luis Sardiñas-type role as a player due to his experience all over the outfield, as well as at SS, 3B, and 2B. Less heralded as a prospect, Motter has nonetheless shown decent power for his defensive profile. He posted an 11.8 BB% in 93 PA’s with the Rays last year, which was fairly in line with his minor league stats. Motter is 27, so he is not likely to develop significantly beyond what he is, but a .217 BABIP in his first MLB season may skew his otherwise respectable pedigree and seems unlikely to continue for a player who has stolen >20 bases multiple seasons in the minors.
As for what was given up, Kittredge is a 26-year-old RHP who has shown below-average stuff in AAA. Kelly is a glove-first 1B whose offensive surge in Class-A Clinton was exciting but unexpected. His excellent 2016 numbers earned him the Mariners’ Edgar Martinez Productive Team Plate Appearance Award (Tl;dr C the Z), making his inclusion a slight surprise. Thompson has not appeared much so far for the organization, but was a 4th round pick who came straight out of high school in 2015, and has not played above Rookie Ball.
Conferring with our farm-state appraiser Ethan Novak, the cost appears to be minimal, especially in the short-term, for a couple players who could add value and utility to a team looking to contend in 2017. Dipoto acknowledged as much addressing the trade itself here and noted his affinity for Shaffer’s power and Motter’s speed. This is, as we have seen many times with the Dipoto front office, a small buy without much likelihood for great upside but avoiding the potential of being burned on the other end.
Lastly, and Rule-5 relevantly, one more move right before I hit publish:
#Mariners have purchased the contracts of Paul Fry, D.J. Peterson and Thyago Vieira— MiLB Roster Tracker (@MiLB_Tracker) November 19, 2016
Somewhat surprisingly, C Tyler Marlette did not receive an addition, meaning he could be plucked. Any other selections would be unexpected, however. This brings the 40-man roster to a full 40. All is symmetrical and well and-
Dammit, Gerard. James Pazos is a 25-year-old lefty(!) reliever whose sinker-slider combo led him to a >13 K/9 in AAA last year. The fastball averages around 95 mph while the slider is around 80 mph. Here's video showcasing some impressive movement and zip.
Seems like a nice pickup for cheap, almost surprisingly so, but I guess sometimes guys slip through the cra-
@MiLB_Tracker Correction: They traded him to Mariners for minor league P Zack Littell.— MiLB Roster Tracker (@MiLB_Tracker) November 19, 2016
Correction: that on-sale item was missing two zeroes on its tag. Bobby DeMuro of Today’s Knuckleball put out a full scouting report on Littell recently, but the crux of this deal depends on how you see the system and this team’s short-term potential. Littell was one of the best starting pitcher prospects in the Mariners system. The Mariners also are not flush with what many experts would describe as top-level pitching prospects. This makes a 20 year old with a 4.6 K/BB ratio and a 90-91 mph fastball in High-A Bakersfield stand out and perhaps seem slightly more valuable than he would in a more well-regarded system. However you interpret that, this is, essentially, trading a guy who looks like he has the potential to be a decent back-end starter for a lefty reliever with excellent stuff that has yet to pitch extensively at the MLB-level.
Okay well that's all, though that would make the 40-man one over capacity... maybe there’s a loophole for timing transactions like thi-
Tom Wilhelmsen has been designated for assignment.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) November 19, 2016
Tom is the best. Tom is how I think most of us like to envision we would be if we also threw 98 mph. It was a joy to see him scheme his way back up to Seattle this season and have some success, even as he struggled with health and consistency down the stretch. With a fairly sizable $3.8 million arbitration figure projected, this makes sense. Perhaps he’ll be back again some day, or even later this offseason.
Dance on, sweet prince.