In the next installment of the 2018 winter blockbuster MLB Hot Stove: The Great Deadening, the Mariners have claimed RHP Chase(n) Bradford off waivers from the Mets. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Bradford is his first name controversy. Fangraphs calls him “Chase,” Baseball-Reference calls him “Chasen,” and Wikipedia is Switzerland:
The Mariners’ 40-man roster was at 39, so this marks the first point this off-season the roster has been full. Progress! It also means that we won’t need to invent a player for the final 40 in 40 installment, which was something I was kind of looking forward to, alas.
If I did invent a likely player, though, it would have basically been Bradford, a right-handed reliever with underwhelming stuff who finds success thanks to a higher-than-average spin rate who also limits his free passes. Bradford is maybe a touch more interesting than Generic Reliever A thanks to some movement on his pitches, which earns him a decent amount of whiffs (12.1% SwStr). In 30 MLB innings he’s been able to get batters to chase out of the zone 34% of the time. Bradford is primarily a sinker/slider guy and his slider can have some wicked break on it:
Given his size and relative lack of pedigree—Bradford was a 35th-round pick in the 2011 draft—it’s easy to squint and see Bradford as a Nick Vincent-type reliever (reminder that Vincent was acquired from the Padres for a fistful of cash, easily one of Dipoto’s best transactions). The comparisons don’t stop there, as Bradford is also a spin-rate darling, boasting a spin rate on his slider of 2622 RPM, 36th-highest in baseball. His fastball doesn’t spin much more than average but it does move, both horizontally and vertically. The difference comes in their batted ball results; while Vincent gets a lot of outs in the air, Bradford is a groundball pitcher. In that way, and with his nasty, nasty slider, Bradford might actually compare better to Tony Zych, another buy-low investment of Dipoto’s.
Bradford also boasts the ability to go multiple innings. He struggled a little with walks in his 30 MLB innings this year (9%, more than double his rate in the minors), but if the Mariners can help him get that under control, they’ve added another potentially valuable piece to a bullpen that already looked strong, and done so at essentially no cost to them.