Juan Nicasio (2 years, $17 million) is a 7-year pro, starter-turned-reliever from the right side, who had a very good year last year. He was great for Pittsburgh, was waived at the end of August for some reason, picked up by Philly, and was traded a week later to St. Louis for minor league prospects. I don’t know and I don’t want to know. He averaged a strikeout per inning and apparently has pretty good stuff (mid-90s fastball, good slider, not-so-good change). Throw him on the pile of potential late-inning relievers with closer Diaz, Vincent, Phelps, Zych, and sometimes Altavilla from the right side; with Scrabble and Pazos on the left side, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty good bullpen. Not great, not out-of-this-world or anything, but pretty good. Potentially. Or maybe not. Maybe some of them are good, some are bad, and some are injured. That’s the way the cookie crumbles in this thing, doesn’t it? It’s all one big, stupid, pointless crapshoot.
Yeah, sure, I like the move, but bullpens are so volatile and random, it’s hard to get too excited about anything anymore. “We’ll see.” That’s gonna be my motto with this Mariners team, this year and forever. We’ll see.
The Mariners also traded away some of their International Slot Money to the Rays for a minor league reliever they’d originally traded TO the Rays last year for God knows what. So, that’s something. They also traded some slot money to the Indians for a reliever by the name of Shawn Armstrong. He’s actually got some Major League experience, so I feel like he’s actually worth mentioning. But, not a ton of experience, so let’s go ahead and store that name and move on.
And, the Mariners took Mike Ford in the Rule 5 Draft from the Yankees’ organization. It was to be expected that the M’s would go after someone in the Rule 5 Draft this year, as they had ample roster space, but I figured it would be for a pitcher (most likely a reliever), because you need to keep anyone you pick in the Rule 5 Draft on your roster for a full season, otherwise the player’s rights revert back to his original team. Considering there’s been all this chatter about the M’s going with a 6-man rotation for at least part of the season, or an 8-man bullpen for a lot longer, it made sense. What doesn’t make sense is that Mike Ford is a first baseman. A first baseman who has never played an inning of Major League ball. Who, indeed, has only 25 games’ worth of AAA experience.
Now, of course, it’s always possible the Mariners and Yankees work out a trade, if indeed 25 games’ worth of AAA experience isn’t enough to land you on a Major League roster for a full season, but it’s a puzzling move any way you slice it. Obviously, when we’re talking about Rule 5 players, we’re not talking about an organization’s best prospect. This is a guy the Yankees felt they could leave off of their 40-man roster and risk losing to another club. Maybe they figured – as most anyone would – that no one would bother with a 25 year old 5-year minor league first baseman whose numbers aren’t really all that eye-popping. But, that’s the Mariners for you. The same Mariners, mind you, who just traded for first baseman Ryon Healy. It didn’t look like he needed a platoon partner, so again, I guess we’ll see.
In yet other minor news, Andrew Albers was granted his release so he could go play in Asia. That’s one less useful AAA starter we could spot start in a pinch.
And finally, I’ll end with this: Drew Smyly ended up signing a 2-year, $10 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, which I guess was more than we were willing to go. He gets $3 million this year just to recover from surgery, and another $7 million in 2019, with $6 million in incentives if he returns to starting. Thus ends the Drew Smyly era in Seattle. He never threw a pitch in a regular season game, he earned a little under $7 million, and he cost us three prospects. If that isn’t the epitome of the perfect Seattle Mariners transaction, I don’t know what is.