It had been something like three weeks since Jerry Dipoto made a transaction. Three long weeks, waiting and wondering what would happen.
Then, earlier today, we had our first deal in a while, when the M’s dealt Seth Smith for Yovani Gallardo. Of course, this created a hole in the outfield...
...for all of three hours.
#Mariners with a second deal. Getting OF Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City for RHP Nathan Karns.— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) January 6, 2017
Quick reaction? This deal puts the M’s in win-now mode without mortgaging a huge part of the future.
First, the return: Jarrod Dyson has a career wRC+ of just 86, so he’s far from a superstar hitter. But he’s been on the up-and-up as of late, with a career-best wRC+ of 94. And, of course, that’s not the main appeal when it comes to Dyson: The speedy outfielder combines baserunning acumen with excellent defense, and he finished 2016 at 3.1 fWAR despite playing in just 107 games and racking up only 337 plate appearances.
As a left-handed hitter, Dyson figures to slide nicely into the spot vacated by Seattle’s Favorite Dad™, and he also slides Ben Gamel into a much smaller supporting role, something that many M’s fans have been clamoring for. If he can repeat his three-win season from a year ago, he’ll be instantly valuable and far less expensive than the options available on the open market.
Of course, there are drawbacks. Dyson is 32 years old, and speedy outfielders with a golden glove and a less-than-golden bat tend to drop off fairly quickly. And though he’s pretty cheap, as an arbitration-eligible player, he does have just this year remaining of team control.
And he cost the Mariners some of that recently-acquired pitching depth in Nathan Karns. Karns, acquired last year as part of the return for Brad Miller and Logan Morrison, struggled last year with injuries, stamina, and production, posting a 5.15 ERA for the season. But he’s only 29, with four years of team control ahead and a major FIP-ERA difference that points to significant improvement next year.
So after all this, where does this leave the M’s?
In the outfield, things are certainly looking up. Dyson/Martin/Haniger, with Valencia bopping between 1B and OF and Gamel/Heredia occupying bench-type roles, is a very solid outfield with plenty of depth. It’ll be a beautiful sight to behold on defense, as Dyson and Martin are both center field-quality guys.
The mound is a different story. For three hours, the rotation depth issues were solved. This deal has reopened those questions, with Gallardo/Ariel Miranda slotting into the 4/5 roles and minimal depth (Chris Heston? Rob Whalen?) behind them. Given the injury histories of Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton, not to mention our beloved King Felix’s season a year ago, the Mariners need more pitching still.
That shouldn’t take away from this deal. Trader Jerry made a bold strike, acquiring a player who will excite and help this team win in 2017. It could certainly hurt down the road, but for now, it represents the kind of move that the Mariners needed to contend.
Roll on, Jarrod. Roll on.