The Seattle Mariners have already made a bevy of moves this offseason, and added two more on Friday. In a trade with the Baltimore Orioles, the Mariners acquired starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith. The Orioles will also send cash considerations to Seattle. Then, just a few hours later, the Kansas City Royals sent outfielder Jarrod Dyson to the Mariners for starting pitcher Nate Karns.
Seattle Mariners Complete Two Trades
Mariners, Orioles Swap Smith and Gallardo
The #orioles announce have acquired OF Seth Smith from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) January 6, 2017
The Mariners entered the offseason needing to address the back-end of their starting rotation. The first three spots are set, with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and James Paxton locked in. The last two spots are up for grabs. Currently, the team’s depth chart lists Ariel Miranda and Robert Whalen as the fifth and sixth starters, respectively. Chris Heston would be the next guy up in the event of injury. However, none of those options inspire a great deal of confidence. Gallardo will have a shot to leapfrog Heston, and could even grab a spot from Miranda or Whalen.
The 30-year-old righty came up with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, and called Miller Park home through 2014. He then spent one year with the Texas Rangers before joining the Orioles last season. Though Gallardo would probably like to forget the 2016 season, and the 5.42 ERA and 1.58 WHIP he put up, he has been an effective pitcher in the past. From 2009-2012, he put up four consecutive seasons of at least 200 strikeouts and at least 13 wins, including a 17 win, 207 strikeout year in 2011.
Though his stuff has declined since then, he can still be valuable. As recently as two seasons ago, with the Rangers, Gallardo won 13 games for the first time since 2009 and finished with a career-best ERA mark (3.42) for a full season. That resurgence clearly did not carry over when he moved to the brutal AL East, but a return to the softer AL West might see his numbers move in a more positive direction. At the very least, more depth and competition in Spring Training never hurts.
On the other end of the trade is Smith, a left-handed batter who can play both corner outfield spots effectively. The 34-year-old also broke into the league in 2007, when the Colorado Rockies brought him up. He has since seen time with the Oakland A’s and the Mariners.
At this point, though he still has some pop in his bat (16 home runs last season), Smith doesn’t offer much as a starting outfielder. He had some strong years with the Rockies, including a very good 2009 (.293 average, .888 OPS), but has tailed off since. He could push Joey Rickard for playing time, but Hyun Soo Kim and Adam Jones have the other two outfield spots locked down.
Royals Send Dyson to Seattle for Karns
#Mariners with a second deal. Getting OF Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City for RHP Nathan Karns.
— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) January 6, 2017
The Mariners didn’t wait long to fill their vacant outfield spot. Rumors that Dyson would be on the move this offseason were plentiful, and that finally came to pass. The 32-year-old left-handed hitter first came up in 2010, and had spent his entire career in Kansas City until now. Dyson doesn’t offer much with his bat, though he did record a career-best .278 average in 2016.
He has no power to speak of, having never hit more than two homers in a season, but is a threat to steal when he gets on. Dyson has stolen at least 30 bags in four of his past five campaigns, including a 36-steal season in 2014. Seattle ranked 24th in the league in steals last year, making speed a top priority for them this offseason.
Karns, 29, has spent time with three teams in his short career. He came up with the Washington Nationals in 2013, and has since pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Mariners. His best season came with Tampa Bay in 2015, when he pitched to a 3.67 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in 26 starts and one relief appearance. He won seven games that year, and struck out 145 batters.
Last season, he pitched just 94.1 innings while splitting time between the bullpen and the rotation. He recorded six wins, a 5.15 ERA, and a 1.48 WHIP. The Royals likely view him as depth for both their starting rotation and their bullpen, though he has an outside shot at winning the fifth starting spot in Spring Training.