For those of you who aren’t night owls, you may have missed this last night:
Source: Mariners close to dealing for a reliever.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 20, 2017
But you certainly can’t have missed this in the morning:
Source: #Marlins, #Mariners now "fairly close" on David Phelps trade. @Feinsand first to report talks between the teams. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 20, 2017
Source: David Phelps to Seattle is at the finish line. Trade is imminent.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 20, 2017
And, finally, it’s official:
Credit to @JeffPassan, @Feinsand and @JonHeyman for their reporting on this. Can also confirm deal is done. https://t.co/0AgwPBXl1a— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 20, 2017
David Phelps, Marlins reliever, is now David Phelps, Mariners reliever. And four prospects are going to South Beach: Brayan Hernandez, a $1.85MM signing just three years ago out of Venezuela; Brandon Miller, a 6th-round pick from 2016 who has put up decent numbers as a 22-year-old in A-ball; Lukas Schiraldi, a reliever for Modesto with a 4.58 ERA this year; and Pablo Lopez, a starter with a gaudy 113 hits allowed in 100 innings this year.
What does this move mean for the Mariners? Well, Jerry Dipoto is clearly not standing pat, but he’s making moves commensurate with the status of the farm system and the team’s current positioning. This is by no means a break-the-bank deal, but it does give the Mariners a quality pitcher who can pitch both in relief and as a starter.
In 44 appearances this season, Phelps has struck out 51 batters over 47 innings, posting a 3.45 ERA and a 3.69 FIP. Though he hasn’t started a game in 2017, the 30-year-old righty is just two seasons removed from making 19 starts for the Yankees.
And, most interestingly, Phelps is coming off a very strong season in 2016, when he threw 86.2 innings and struck out 114 batters compared to just 38 walks. Though his command isn’t excellent (his career walk rate of 3.48 BB/9 is notably higher than the league’s rate of 3.28 BB/9), his power pitching ability is - his K/9 rate last year slots him just between Yu Darvish and Lance McCullers.
Since the start of 2016, only 14 relievers have 100+ IP with an ERA < 2.70. David Phelps is one of them. He has 5th most Ks among those 14.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 20, 2017
Plus, c’mon, who doesn’t love a good fist-pump and a nasty breaking ball?
I mean pic.twitter.com/1FrTitPYWM— Ethan (@EthanNovak) July 20, 2017
We could see Phelps spell Sam Gaviglio in the rotation very soon, or we could see him take stress off a bullpen that, though pretty good of late, has certainly relied on a few key pieces.
Phelps is arbitration-eligible for 2018, meaning this is not a rental. Unfortunately, the price the Mariners paid reflects that. Though none of the four prospects dealt are at the top of the Seattle system, there’s still real talent leaving the farm. Brayan Hernandez is the team’s #6 prospect per MLB.com, and as a teenager holding his own in Everett, the sky is the limit. Beyond Hernandez, Brandon Miller is a piece in his own right, as the #16 prospect on that same list. The final two players, Lukas Schiraldi and Pablo Lopez, are simply filler.
Will this move work out? It’s hard to say, and the return certainly seems pricey. This trade could certainly haunt the Mariners just as previous prospect-for-established-starter deals have in the past (I don’t think I need to say anything here...). But if Hernandez fizzles out, then Jerry Dipoto has another feather in his cap.
At the end of the day, the Mariners are making a measured move to contend this year. Let’s hope this deal ends as well as the last deal involving the Mariners, a one-time Yankee, and a Phelps.