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Mariners acquire RHP Bryan Bonnell to solve the 2020 bullpen crisis

Salvation at last.

Charlotte Stone Crabs

The un-examined life is not worth living, and the un-transacted day is not worth trading. A couple hours after trading veteran reliever Casey Fien to the Phillies for sweet sweet cash, the Mariners made another minor move.

Bryan Bonnell is a 23 year-old RHP who is in the midst of a decent season with the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs. His size is the first thing that stands out, with a 6’5, 210 frame that would suggest a starter. Unfortunately, that has not been the case since Bonnell left college at UNLV after his injury-riddled junior year. Working mostly as a reliever, the former 36th-round pick put together two straight solid seasons in the minors, with a 3.19 xFIP last year in 51.0 innings at Single-A and a 2.61 xFIP so far in 11.0 innings this year. His strikeout numbers were excellent, at 28.8% (11.12 K/9) last year, but his walk rate was up around 10.5% (4.06 BB/9). This year, he’s allowed just one walk while striking out 10 as the , which is good. That’s what you want to see. It’s also not all that remarkable.

Bonnell throws 91-94 with a sinker and has worked both a slider and a curveball, as well as a split-change. Surprisingly with his repertoire, Bonnell has been a heavily fly-ball pitcher. If I am to project anything with the minimal film I have been able to find, Evan Marshall comes to mind. Decent frame and velocity, similar sinking repertoire that yields surprisingly aerial results. The overall health of the organization’s pitching staffs has been stretched mighty thin, so some depth is good, I suppose, but this doesn’t move the needle in any other ways. The value of the international slot is $321,100. If you’re unfamiliar with how the international slot value system works, it’s explained pretty succinctly here. Essentially, the M’s gave the Rays $321,100 more to work with in their international signing pool this year. As you may recall, the Mariners recently acquired the 105th slot from the Orioles in exchange for Paul Fry, which was worth $198,000. In short, the Mariners’ total international signing pool dropped from $3,073,400 to $2,752,300. That drops them from the 11th largest budget in the MLB this year to the 12th, which is irksome, if not massive.

For the Mariners to restock their farm system they will likely need to be active on the international market, which this move certainly does not preclude. It has simply been frustrating to see the Dipoto regime, which has made some clear organizational improvements over the last decade of ineptitude, be fairly passive on the international market so far. That may be about to change of course.

Until it happens, however, it is a somewhat glaring gap in the coverage of a team that has a payroll that demands maximizing finding cheap value. Then again, maybe Bryan Bonnell is the truest value of all.