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Mariners sign Marc Rzepczynski, Casey Fien; designate Dean Kiekhefer, Zach Lee for assignment

A relief pitcher upgrade is confirmed. Another relief pitcher shuffle occurs.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks
It’s official, you can come on out now Marc
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Marc Rzepczynski has been all but confirmed to be a Mariner since before the most recent Childish Gambino album was released, but we now have official confirmation on that and another move.

Mariners Sign:

LHP Marc Rzepczynski - 2 years, $11 million

RHP Casey Fien - 1 year, $1.1 million (if he makes the MLB club)

Mariners DFA:

LHP Dean Kiekhefer

RHP Zach Lee

The signing of Rzepczynski should solidify the LOOGY role, albeit at a cost that may be grumble-worthy. In free agency you pay for consistency, and the Mariners chose to use some of their remaining payroll to, in theory, lock up a particular role. Scrabble dominates lefties, and has done so for his entire career, allowing a .266 wOBA and putting up 198/52 K/BB with just 8 homers in 184 career IP vs. lefties. In that role he should be very effective. Since he has been discussed already here I won’t spend too much time on this move.

Even I won’t indulge in the laziest pun possible in describing Casey Fien’s ability. The 33 year-old had four solid seasons as late-inning/setup man for the Twins, posting an FIP averaging around 3.30, before completely falling apart in 2016 and being waived. Fien was picked up by the Dodgers, where he continued to struggle before and after being placed on the DL in July with an elbow injury. His peripherals seemed remotely in line with his career, with strikeout rates that climbed back to a respectable 8 K/9 to compensate for an increase in walks. The problems came from Fien not so much being bitten by the home run bug as he was devoured by the home run Charybdis. Ignore the 40% from a season where he threw just 2.2 IP and one of these things stands out.


Fien throws a four-seam fastball in the low 90s, as well as a slider, a two-seamer, and a curveball. Fien actually averaged a career high 93.2 mph on his four-seam last year. The velocity did not appear to help him, as his offspeed pitches were wildly ineffective, and his four seam ceased to be a beneficial pitch for him as well. Only his two-seamer was valued by PITCHf/x to have positive value in 2016. Fien still has a minor league option left, so the $1.1 million of his contract only kicks in if he makes the major league club, meaning he will likely start as a minor league depth.

Losing Kiekhefer is a shame, but with the additions of higher ceiling options in Zac Curtis and James Pazos, Rzepczynski rendered the previous clubhouse leader for spell-check disruptor superfluous. Zach Lee’s journey appears to have taken another unfortunate turn, as the former first round pick and Top-50 prospect struggled mightily in Tacoma last year. After being acquired from the Dodgers for INF Chris Taylor in 2016, Lee posted a 5.43 FIP in 74.1 innings and struggled to C the Z, walking nearly three batters per 9 innings, while striking out just six. The 25 year-old could make it back to the minor league roster, but his time on the 40-man has come to a close.

At last.