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Mariners address backup catcher situation, trade for Curt Casali from Giants

Mariners make an upgrade on the margins, which is better than no upgrade

MLB: Chicago White Sox at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not the move for a big bat most Mariner fans were hoping to see, but the Mariners did add another position player before the trade deadline ended, adding catcher Curt Casali from the Giants and addressing their backup catcher issue—maybe not the most pressing of the issues facing the team, but a marginal upgrade to help the team nonetheless.

The Giants don’t particularly need Casali, as they seem committed to giving youngster Joey Bart more reps to figure out MLB now that the team has started to fade from contention—and that was before the Padres went full supernova today. Austin Wynns was already holding down the fort while the Giants flirted with contention earlier this season, so he’ll carry on in that role in a timeshare with Bart. The Giants also have an insurance policy in case Bart, currently carrying an 84 wRC+ with a 42% K rate, doesn’t figure it out at the MLB level in the form of Patrick Bailey, their 2020 first-rounder, who some see as leapfrogging Bart as a prospect.

Casali is kind of exactly what we hoped for when we envisioned the perfect backup catcher. He’s got a reputation as a strong defender, but he’s not completely feckless with the bat, albeit as a more hit-over-power type, and he knows how to take a walk even if he strikes out too much. He’s also a long-tenured MLB vet who’s been with three different organizations, which will be an invaluable source of information for young Cal Raleigh, who now finally gets a mentor of his very own, as well as maybe a day off, finally. And speaking of those previous teams, one of them was none other than the Cincinnati Reds (2018-2020), so not only does Casali know the former Reds now in Seattle, he also served as catcher for trade deadline gem Luis Castillo. The Seattle Redlegs grow ever more powerful!

Here’s the wrinkle on Casali: he’s currently on the IL, rehabbing an oblique strain he suffered early in July. It’s a Grade 2 strain, which should have a timetable of about a month, and he’s already appearing in rehab games for Triple-A Sacramento, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re expecting him to show up in NYC tomorrow to catch his old friend Luis Castillo. That also delays a decision about what to do with Luis Torrens, who is not playing well enough for a spot on the 25-man, but is also out of options and good enough that there’s a strong chance he could be claimed on waivers.

As you’d expect, the return coming over from the Mariners is relatively minimal: reliever Michael Stryffeler, whose name you should be familiar with if you’ve seen Kyle gushing over him in the pages of the Midshipman’s Log. Stryffeler was signed as an UDFA and as such has always been a little old for his levels—he’s 26 in Double-A now, although the Mariners had just promoted him to Triple-A before he got traded—but he’s been rock-solid at every level. He’s occasionally wobbled with command, but he can strike out the world; he’s never run a K-rate below 37.7% in the minors, and showed well this spring when the Mariners tested him in spring training against major-league competition. He should be a piece ready to go in the Giants’ perpetually-needy bullpen next year, or even this year if San Francisco switches to full “let the kids play” mode while they’re fielding punches from the Dodgers and revamped Padres.