As we arose groggily from a night of baseball-free festivities, Jerry Dipoto made his move.
The immediate impact is clear. With the bullpen stabilized, the Mariners feel more comfortable using a roster spot on a platoon at 1B. If ever there was a player who could use that help it is the dutiful Danny Valencia, who has labored against RHPs this year, as he has for the majority of his career. This year in particular, the two players have been inversions of one another. Against LHPs, Valencia has been stellar, and Alonso has been lost.
Fortunately for Alonso and unfortunately for the Mariners up to this point, the baseball world is predominantly right-handed, and Alonso has been brilliant this year against them.
Alonso was an All-Star this year after making well-documented adjustments to his swing and mentality. Alonso is also a fascinating individual who told his own story this magnificent Player’s Tribune piece wherein he wrote a letter to his younger self. He’s hit .266/.369/.525 with a 140 wRC+ this year, including 22 homers and a very reasonable .301 BABIP. Pairing him with his fellow Miamian/Cuban/apparent savior of his career/2016 Athletics teammate Valencia makes sense in a batting order and allows for the Mariners to have a capable pinch-hitter off the bench in any situation. With rosters expanding in three weeks as well, the bullpen will be extended out again in September.
The tradeoff is control. Alonso is a free agent at the end of the year, while Powell is still under team control for several years. Powell has torn up the PCL since returning from his second suspension for PEDs, but is ostensibly blocked at the MLB level by Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger, Leonys Martín, and Guillermo Heredia, all of whom have perfomed at a higher level. Even in Tacoma and AA-Arkansas, the 24-year-old Powell was challenged by this year’s improvements by Ian Miller, Braden Bishop, and of course the hopeful horizon in the next couple years of Kyle Lewis. Powell is a reasonable 4th OF right now, but that’s the only real spot of depth right now on the farm.
Alonso will be fun down the stretch, and with the continuing thinning of the pitching staff, the Mariners are going to try and mash their way to a WC spot. This move is not wildly expensive, but a pretty clear departure from previous patterns from the front office in terms of acquiring players with multiple years of control.
Note: This trade has also happened, and this post will be updated ASAP on it:
Luis Rengifo is the name that likely jumps out if any of them resonate to you. Rengifo is a 5’10, 170 lbs switch-hitting ball of energy who had unlocked a bit of power in his first season above Rookie-Ball in Single-A Clinton. His combination of speed (29 steals in 102 games) and a bit of pop (11 HRs) were intriguing from a 20-year-old with middle infield and outfield versatility. His bat still needs to continue developing but his work had him as the Mariners 27th prospect.
22-year-old LHP Anthony Misiewicz showed some promise in Modesto this year with a 9.81 K/9 and a 3.12 BB/9 in 78.0 IP. He’s dropped down under 7 K/9 since his promotion to AA-Arkansas and his combination of a low-90s fastball and mid-70s curveball trends more towards organizational depth than significant prospect from the former 18th-round pick.
In return, the Mariners get reliever Ryan Garton and catcher Mike Marjama. Garton has been a strikeout artist in the minors and had success in brief exposure last year, but has struggled with control. The 27-year-old RHP sports a four pitch arsenal, relying mainly on his 94-mph fastball and a high-80s cutter, with dashes of a curveball and changeup as well. It’s a profile that has potential, but doesn’t look like an immediate upgrade over anyone in the bullpen, although Garton retains several years of team control.
Marjama is the Rays Steve Baron, and has spent the season in AAA unremarkably. Since Garton demands a 40-man spot (as he was on the Rays’ 40-man), Marjama’s acquisition seems likely to fortell the DFA’ing of Tuffy Gosewisch for a roster spot.