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Mariners Sign Hunter Strickland; Definitely Do Not Sign Bryce Harper

Hunter punches a lot of stuff, okay?

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

I think we all probably get a lot of premonitions that aren’t borne out, and our brain promptly dumps memories of those on the ashheap. But I’m different, you see—as the Mariners’ pre spring training press conference began (an event to which I strangely was not invited), I just knew that a roster move would come down. But what? A trade for Alex Verdugo? Perhaps finally an Edwin Encarnacion trade? ....oh.

The Good

Strickland throws a straight but hard fastball that sits at 95-96 and is not easy to hit.

He mixes in a slider-ish curve that sits in the mid-80s and has nice 12-6 action.

Over parts of five seasons with San Francisco, Strickland has generated 2.4 fWAR out of the bullpen in 226 innings. He’s generally serviceable but not great against LHB (4.01 career FIP) but much better against RHB (2.99). His FIPs have also generally trended better than his xFIPs, which is probably helped at least a little by playing in whatever they call ATT Park now.

Last, Strickland has control. Though a free agent, he was non-tendered by the Giants and with his service time sitting at 3.163, the Mariners can control him through 2021 if they wish to go through arbitration in the next two seasons. That’s reasonably unlikely, but if he figures something out, it could be really useful.

The Bad

Strickland had a brutal 2018, posting a career-worst FIP of 4.42 (nearly a point higher than his previous worst) and a negative fWAR for the first time in his career. This was in part because of...

The Ugly

Strickland is, uh, a little more known than a reliever generally should be. On June 18 of last year, he blew a save and, after being removed from the game, punched a clubhouse door, broke his hand, and missed exactly two months. Most of his bad stat line for 2018 comes from after his return, when he posted a miserable FIP over 7 and generally did not look, well, good.

Oh, he’s also known for drilling Bryce Harper with a 98 mph fastball, leading to Harper slingshotting a helmet at him and causing a lovely brawl. So I guess we can finally all conclude we’re not signing Bryce Harper. Sorry.

Since the Mariners are in the middle of a press conference and the beat writers are engaged, we do not yet have a 40-man move. We’ll share as soon as that is available, here on look out land ing dot com. Back to you in the studio, Kate.