The Mariners emerged from their post-luncheon siesta and, feeling reinvigorated, made another small move Thursday afternoon, acquiring LHP Dillon Overton from the Athletics in exchange for minor league catcher Jason Goldstein. Overton will take a spot on the 40-man roster, and, sadly, that spot has been vacated by the lovable Jesus Sucre.
Overton is a starting pitcher whose trajectory looked to be that of a middle to back end starter, with a 92-94 mph fastball, but Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft has sapped him of some upside and velocity. These days he sits in the high-80s, topping out around 91. At 25 years old Overton still has improving to do, but it seems unlikely that he will get much more of that velocity back. Still, Overton has been very effective at every level in the minor leagues, including an impressive full season in AAA last year where he averaged a 7.52 K/9 and a pleasant 2.22 BB/9, helping him put up a 3.46 FIP and a 3.29 ERA. Overton was rewarded with a call up to Oakland, where he was promptly devoured whole by the long ball monster.
In his 24.1 Innings in The Show Overton gave up home runs on 22.6% of the fly balls he allowed, which is good if your goal is to endear yourself to the children of your opponents. It’s especially pleasing to the enemy children when 75.7% of the contact you give up is a line drive or a fly ball, which was the gift Overton delivered like a green and gold Santa Claus. Those numbers and the .396 BABIP he allowed seem likely to dip, but Overton’s bag of tricks relies on him painting corners as his velocity can’t get him out of as many mistakes. A funky delivery helps his deceptiveness, and give his variety of offspeed a chance to succeed behind his unimposing fastball.
Acquiring another buy-low starting pitcher is almost never a bad thing, but Overton costs a 40-man spot, so he’ll have to make his development count.
The cost for this lottery ticket was two catchers. One was new Oakland Athletic Jason Goldstein. Goldstein was a 9th round pick in the 2015 draft, but missed much of his first season with a hamstring injury. Goldstein was a senior selected out of Illinois. According to prospect expert Ethan Novak, he was “known as a glove-first catcher with good leadership/clubhouse presence. His bat came around his senior year but there were questions over the legitimacy of his breakout senior season.” He will be 23 at the start of this season after hitting .255/.316/.294 in Single-A Everett in 2016. The other catcher put into flux is more recognizable.
Jesus Sucre was DFA’d to create space for Overton on the 40-man roster. While Sucre had a strong year in a tiny sample in 2016, which was recently rehashed by our own Isabelle Minasian, the recent struggles he has had in winter ball remind us of the unfortunate truth; Jesus Sucre is a very good defensive catcher whose bat is not MLB-level. For fans of this charming receiver, however, there is good news. Sucre is set to make 600k in 2016, a sizable chunk above the league minimum. For any team to claim him, they would have to decide Sucre was worth more than just rolling with a cheaper, comparably valuable catcher in their own system. Odds are good Sucre will pass through waivers and return safe and sound to Tacoma in the next couple weeks.