The Mariners spent money to make the 2021 team better, AND the 2023 team will potentially be better as well? We like this.
Giles Mariners deal breakdown: 500K signing bonus. $1M 2021. $5M 2022. $9.5M option with 500K buyout 2023. $7M/2 guarantee, $19M/3 possible (including incentives)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 18, 2021
Seattle must truly be Hell, because it’s currently frozen over and the Mariners have spent some money this off-season. Not so fast! It’s not money that will actually make the team better this season, if that’s what you were thinking. Stand back, because we got a #ShannonScoop incoming:
According to source, the @Mariners and reliever Ken Giles have reached agreement on a multi-year deal. Move aimed more at 2022 with Giles coming off a September Tommy John Surgery.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) February 12, 2021
As staff member Zach pointed out, this is the “no, not like that” meme come to life, as fans have been begging the Mariners to spend this off-season, so they did...on someone who can’t pitch until 2022. In case you forgot, here’s the career trajectory of Ken Giles:
- 2014: Breaks into MLB with the Phillies, the team that drafted him;
- 2015: Traded to the Astros for Vince Velazquez and a bag of old cell phone chargers;
- 2016-17: Initial struggles before being fully Astro-ized in 2017. You’ll probably remember Giles from such hits as “with the exception of one game, not allowing a single run to the Seattle Mariners in 2016” or “striking out 19 Mariners in 10 innings in 2017.” Ken Giles coming on was the most unpleasant sight one could see when watching the Mariners play the Astros—at least until 2018.
- Unfortunately, Giles was fairly disastrous in the 2017 post-season, and then struggled again in 2018, leading up to the infamous face-punching incident. (The incident itself is fairly prosaic; what Patrick Dubuque wrote about it for Baseball Prospectus is poetry. Go read it.)
- That precipitated a trade to the Blue Jays, when the Astros decided to fully lean into their heel turn and trade for closer Roberto Osuna, no longer welcome in Toronto after being accused of domestic assault but apparently more than welcome in Houston.
- Giles was very good for the Blue Jays in 2019, and then less good in 2020, on account of some nagging elbow inflammation that had started in 2019 and continued on into 2020, requiring him to eventually have Tommy John surgery in late September.
- And now he’s a Mariner.
All this aside, this is actually a pretty fun signing, if you’re willing to be patient. When healthy, “Hundred Miles Giles” has been as nastily effective as a Neti pot, as any Mariners batter from 2016-17 could attest. Look at this spicy meatball of a Savant page, and remember, that’s while pitching through arm discomfort in 2019:
Here’s Giles making Haniger whiff on some triple-digit cheddar:
Also, maybe signing Giles is a way to sweet-talk Kyle Seager into hanging around for an extra year in 2022, or at least not going to an AL West rival, as Seager accounts for at least four of Giles’s strikeouts against the Mariners all by himself:
Plus, despite being a member of the despicable Astros, Giles said the right things after leaving the organization, including offering to give his World Series ring back if asked. After his trade to the Blue Jays, Giles told the Toronto Star:
I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
So overall, there’s a ton to like about this signing, even though this is a fun toy Mariners fans will have to wait a year in order to see. Also, the traditional caveats about TJ recovery apply, as not all roads back are smooth ones, and Giles is on the first leg of a long and boring road. Maybe the Mariners can hook him up with fellow TJ warriors Andrés Muñoz and Matt Magill at the complex. Furthermore, it’s encouraging that the team is already investing—even minimally—in the 2022 team. It would be nice to see some more investment in the 2021 team, though, especially as season ticket purchase reminders are starting to pop up in people’s inboxes.