After the series of unfortunate events known as the 2018 Mariners season, we knew Dipoto would be active early. He was.
(And the return, you ask? Oh, just a couple of LL favorites in Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. If you need me, I’ll be over here, extremely sad.)
First, what the Mariners are getting: Denard Span, who was traded to the Rays from the Giants as part of a package for Evan Longoria. Span is at the end of his contract, so he’s a pricey rental, and he’s 34 years old and not hitting...especially well? But not exactly sucking, either, as he’s amassed .4 fWAR on the season. That’s a Ben Gamel upgrade (-.2 fWAR) and some breathing room for Gamel to figure things out. Also, despite looking a little like a baseball werewolf, Old Man Span can still go get it:
The Mariners are reportedly getting some cash from the Rays to offset Span’s cost, which will probably cover his buyout next year. Span is a salary relief play for the quickly-fading Rays, and the move that sets up the other, more exciting part of this trade.
Alex Colomé has been having a strong season for the Rays, with a 23.7% K-rate against a somewhat scary BB% of 8.3%. While his ERA is in the 4s, his FIP is a career-best 2.69, and if Seattle’s coaching staff can help solve his walk problem some, he could go from good to great. It’s somewhat of an odd move seeing as how the Mariners are still using Wade LeBlanc as a fifth starter, and just paid Juan Nicasio a giant stack of cash to be the eighth inning guy for this year and the next, but acquiring him mostly shores up the David Phelps-sized hole in the bullpen, with the difference being that Phelps could be ideally be used for multiple innings, while Colomé, outside of a few exceptions, hasn’t pitched multiple innings since he was a starter in 2015. This could possibly shift Nicasio into a multi-inning role, perhaps moving up to the fifth/sixth innings. That makes a very different composition for the back end of Seattle’s bullpen, with Díaz-Colomé-Vincent, plus mixing Cook and Pazos in there at times, with Altavilla and Bradford (who I assume will be optioned to Tacoma to make space) ready to spring into action should anything go sideways. Ultimately, this trade makes the Mariners better than they were yesterday.
Of course, all trades come at a cost, and the cost here is one of making the team potentially worse in a few years. The Mariners are giving up two useful pitching prospects in Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero, and while Florida boy Romero gets a chance to go play for the team that he originally worked out for and who the Mariners stole away from Tampa, Andrew Moore will be leaving the Pacific Northwest for the first time in his career. While Moore was part of the group of MLB-adjacent pitchers the Mariners have quite a few of, Romero was the lone starting pitching prospect in the lower minors who looked like he had a relatively clear path to the big leagues, with apologies to low-velocity spinlords Nathan Bannister and Ljay Newsome. I suppose we can always hope one or both of them gets the Anthony Misiewicz treatment and welcomed home for a little international slot money like prodigal pitching sons. Another thing of note: the Mariners will re-stock the farm in just a week or so here with the draft. We’ve been saying for a while this is an important draft, but with the loss of two of our very few starting pitching prospects, the dial just got turned up to 11. No pressure, everyone.