The Mariners hear your concerns about the bullpen, and they have addressed those concerns by adding...Mike Wright Jr.?
The Orioles drafted Mike Wright in the third round in 2011 out of East Carolina; Baseball America identified him as a likely reliever and put a sixth-round projection on him, but Baltimore thought Wright had starter potential and took him much sooner. The Orioles were aggressive with Wright, sliding him all the way to A ball the summer after he was drafted, and moving him to AA in his first full year in the system. By 2015, he was making his major-league debut. Wright was never able to find success as a starter in the bigs, though, and in 2017 the Orioles started using him out of the bullpen, where he posted decent K-BB numbers but continued to give up runs at an alarming rate. After a particularly dreadful start to 2019 that saw him surrender the lead in an Opening Day contest against the Yankees and earn the ire of seemingly every Baltimorean, including our pals over at Camden Chat, the Orioles finally cut ties with Wright a few days ago, much to the relief of Birdland.
So what would interest the Mariners about a failed-reliever-turned-failed-starter creeping uncomfortably close to age 30? First, there’s the raw stuff; Wright has a fastball that can be anywhere from 93-98 and has played up out of the bullpen, as well as a cutter and a hard slider. Wright’s poor numbers are mostly the result of bad command; he struggles to locate, and then gets hit hard when he comes over the plate to get back into the count. It’s likely the Mariners see something here similar to what they saw in Connor Sadzeck, another reliever with plus stuff and minus command, and believe they can make a tweak to Wright’s mechanics or approach to increase his effectiveness. The Mariners have been betting on the superiority of their player development in making some bargain-bin acquisitions, and Wright, as a former third-rounder, fits that mold.
The sticky wicket here is that Wright is out of options; the Orioles had hoped to pass him through waivers to let him keep figuring things out at Triple-A, so any developing Wright does will have to be, like Sadzeck, on the fly with the big club. The Mariners do have an open spot on the 40-man so no one has to be DFA’d at this time, but a 25-man spot will have to be found for him, complicated again by the fact that Justus Sheffield will reportedly be called up on Friday to piggyback with Kikuchi on his shortened start. As Ryan Divish pointed out, the Mariners do have 72 hours to add Wright (rather, Wright has the 72 hours in order to relocate his life cross-country), so they could do a little fancy-stepping and wait until Friday to do so: calling up Sheffield, DFA’ing someone or optioning Bradford to make space, then immediately activating Wright and optioning Sheffield back down after Friday’s game. Roster Hijinks!
In exchange for Wright, the Mariners are sending the Orioles SS Ryne Ogren. Ogren was drafted out of Elon University in 2018 in the 12th round; at Everett, he showed himself to be a steady player with good plate discipline who can also play all over the infield. Ogren was off to a bit of a slow start in West Virginia, but had two home runs already in addition to holding down the middle infield. Also, he had my favorite walkup music in the system (“Robot Rock” by Daft Punk, which always sounded very cool coming to the plate). Ogren will most likely pack his bag and head up the road to the Delmarva Shorebirds, currently in first place in the South Atlantic League with a wild .875 winning percentage thanks to a prospect-packed roster.