Robinson Canó Abandons Ship, Mariners Look for Mae Wests

By Stevil, May 16th, 2018


Standard issue Mariner uniform accessory for 2018.


Seattle started 2018 with a couple of teeth knocked out early with David Phelps and Tony Zych never making it out of spring, and a few others on the DL. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Ben Gamel has produced little to smile about out since his return and Erasmo was brought back prematurely, which resulted in him heading right back down. Hisashi Iwakuma may very well brush away a few concerns, but Marc Rzepczynski has left a large lefty cavity in the 'pen and Casey Lawrence is the travel-size version of Poligrip. Dan Altavilla flirts with breaking out, but is more likely to do so with acne, and Erik Goeddel is more of an underappreciated emergency retainer. But we have some promising, up & coming internal relief options. It's the outfield that worries me the most, especially since Dee Gordon is moving back to 2nd base following Canó's suspension. If Phelps and Zych can be referred to as individual teeth, losing Canó would suggest the need for metaphoric dentures. Or at least a root canal. 

*Update, May 20th: Goeddel was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers, Hardball via Hardcore struggles to understand why he was on waivers in the first place. 

If I haven't made myself clear, dental hygiene and maintenance is the concern here—namely mine. I'm a game-grinder.

Seattle needs help and has few chips (from any perspective) to work with, so identifying external help won't be easy. But luckily, my lack of scouting talent and experience is supplemented by my ability to recognize players that are flawed. I'll explain.

Every year, players get squeezed out of their respective organizational tubes for one reason or another. Sometimes it's lack of production and age despite a high profile. Sometimes it's because of a lack of roster space. Sometimes it's because the player is out of options, or in their final option year and blocked by someone better. There are other reasons, of course, but rather than looking for players that need major fixing, or players in the spotlight, I prefer to look for players who fit one of the above descriptions and have already made an adjustment or need only minor tinkering, simply needing a place to put those adjustments to the test. Where better a place to do that than in Seattle? It's something to chew on.

Though some of the names I suggest are somewhat of a lottery ticket, I believe they offer more hope than the players they would be filling in for and may strengthen the team's enamel considerably.

So, here's some names that should ring a bell,...

    1. Christian Walker, 1B/LF
    2. Jared Miller, LHRP 
    3. Brett Phillips, OF 
    4. Lenoys Martin, OF 
    5. Blaine Hardy, LHP

      Yes, once again I've singled out Christian Walker. He's deserving of a shot and he simply won't get it in Arizona. He has the same discipline Vogelbach has, though he also offers solid defense (LF and 1B; 3B, not so much). A LHH would be preferred, but Walker doesn't have notable splits and his versatility could prove invaluable.

      Jared Miller is a tall lefty (think Randy Johnson) with a jaw-dropping fastball and a plus cutter (decent curve as well). His control has been a work in progress, but that just happens to be an area of expertise with Tacoma's pitching coach, Lance Painter. Seattle's roster plaque features few lefty relievers. Miller would take care of that. Perhaps Walker and Miller could be acquired for Nick Zammarelli III, Nick Wells, and Chuck Taylor? Maybe another chip would be needed, but a deal for those two shouldn't break the bank--just the gum-line.

      Brett Phillips has been on my radar for a while now, and like Walker, he's blocked in his respective organization. He has a somewhat violent, left-handed swing that probably needs to be tamed a bit, though he's showed signs of doing just that in the early going this season. Apart from that, he can play all 3 outfield positions and nobody in baseball has a stronger arm than he has. Perhaps he could be acquired for Eric Filia? That would mark a classic Dipoto-esque swap of lower-level talent for upper-level talent and reset the clock, so to speak, for Milwaukee with a prospect equally as talented. If an arm is preferred, Max Povse, Rob Whalen, or Ariel Miranda might make sense. Maybe Max Povse and Rob Whalen. Miranda is out of options next year, so that's something to consider. Bottom line is that at least one LHH outfielder is needed and Phillips fits the profile.

      Leonys Martin. I put his name in bold for a reason.

      After a sharp decline in power and walks in the second half of 2016, things got worse in 2017 and Martin ended up DFA'd and moved to Chicago where his struggles continued. Detroit picked him up in the offseason, he made some changes, and he was scorching baseballs while offering solid defense in center field for the Tigers before landing on the DL. Though the sample size is small, his exit velocity is up, average launch angle is higher, and he's getting ahead in counts. This isn't a classic case of sacrificing contact for power, either. In fact, he's increased contact while decreasing his kS% and lowering his GB%. Lot to like, and it isn't BABIP driven.

      Though he appears to be a clubhouse hit, he isn't likely a long-term piece for Detroit. He was loved in Seattle as well and the feeling appeared to be mutual. Returning to the Emerald City might be the most feasible of these ideas, as Detroit happens to have an upcoming hole in an area where Seattle has a little depth. Martin shouldn't come at a high cost, regardless. I can't think of a better option to spell or replace Gamel in the lineup, or spell Gordon while he fills in for yet another MLB victim of high blood pressure. MLB's to blame for this, as they've done little to promote high blood pressure awareness.

      Blaine Hardy is a seasoned lefty (and Seattle native, for what that's worth) who started the season in AAA and simply dominated. He was recalled and has continued where he left off. He'll be entering arbitration-eligibility next season, so it would seem likely that he isn't off limits. Vogelbach and a pre-arb reliever would make sense, and no, I don't anticipate Cruz going anywhere, but even if he did, Seattle could get around that. I'll detail how in my offseason plan. Maybe before then if I get bored.

      Ironically, Hardy was the one that plunked Canó and sent him to the DL. If Hardy was feeling guilty, he should have a clean conscience after the suspension, as it (the suspension) rendered Canó useless for most of what's left of the season.

      Not impressed with this list? Wondering why I neglected to mention a starting pitcher? Well, this isn't a great time to go shopping, as the market isn't likely open for much business just yet. Though Seattle will save 10 or 11 million with Canó suspended, you can probably forget about adding a front-line starter anytime soon. It would still take prospects to land someone significant and it may be too late by the time the better known players become available.

      Seattle has a brutal month of June ahead of them, after which everything could change. It's possible an innings-eater is acquired, but Roenis Elias will likely get a shot first, and acquiring someone like Hardy (if he's available) would allot Seattle some flexibility with their use of LeBlanc and Ramirez while cutting bait with Rzepczynski. As far as internal relief options go, look for Ryan Cook, Shawn Armstrong, and possibly Dario Álvarez to get a shot before too long.

      Whether or not Seattle braces for the postseason, they'll need a replacement for Rzepczynski next season and they could stand to thicken their outfield depth. Leonys has another year of control and Hardy has 3. Everyone else listed has significantly more control. Starting pitching is always in demand and always on the shopping list. I'll do what I can to floss out more names, but these players could help with the malocclusion we've seen and bridge the gap to the promised land: the long-awaited post-season.

      So, think of this like a dental cleaning and checkup. You have the examination first, then have the real work done later, once you've cleared out enough space on your credit card. It's mid-May now and the trade market should start picking up in about a month. If the Mariners are still treading water, we could see something more reassuring. If they're sinking, maybe we'll see a slight change in direction.

      On that note, I propose a toast: to better luck! Robbie can pick up the tab.


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