Apparently, it might just be Mariners week here at RealGM, as we already covered the Yovani Gallardo and Jarrod Dyson trades and it wasn’t long before GM Jerry Dipoto was back at it again on Wednesday, this time swapping a some young players with Atlanta. The trade sent a couple of their top prospects, LHP Luiz Gohara and LHP Thomas Burrows, to the Braves and netted Seattle RHP Shae Simmons and outfielder Mallex Smith. Before the ink even dried on that deal, Dipoto had already sent Smith, along with a couple other prospects (infielder Carlos Vargas and LHP Ryan Yarbrough), to Tampa Bay in order to acquire LHP Drew Smyly. Since it’s Mariners week and all, we’re going to focus on Seattle in this here article.
Smyly was obviously who Seattle had their eyes on the whole time (Dipoto said as much) and the Atlanta trade was mostly about acquiring the assets to make the Smyly deal happen. Smyly is coming off of his best season as a starter in terms of health, but his worst in terms of results. His 2016 saw him pitch 175 innings of 4.88 ERA/4.49 FIP ball, good for only an 83 ERA+. His strikeouts dropped from 10.40 K/9 in 2015 to 8.57 in 2016. His HR/9 has ballooned over the last couple of seasons with the Rays (1.49 in 2015 and 1.64 in 2016).
That being said, there are some reasons to believe that Smyly could find success in Seattle, mainly the even more spacious confines of Safeco Field and the likely very good outfield defense that his teammates will be providing. At the very least, his presence should push Gallardo back a spot in the rotation and help to limit the number of innings that he pitches (which, of course, makes that deal look even stranger than it did when we discussed it earlier this week).
It’s also worth noting that Simmons is more than just a throw-in in all of this. In his four years in the minors, he sported a 12.9 K/9 and a 1.80 ERA over 120 innings. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and just returned down the stretch last season for six innings of work. It’s far too early to say whether Simmons will follow through on his potential, but there is certainly lots of it.
Grade for Mariners: B-
The Mariners are plowing through their farm system, uprooting everything in the hopes that they can turn their team into a contender now. While the long term wisdom of the moves they are making is certainly up for debate, in light of the other moves they’ve already made this offseason, this set of deals certainly makes sense. Even if there are some question marks by both of the players they ended up with, Smyly has enough upside and, if Simmons delivers on his promise, he’ll likely either be Seattle’s closer or will be instrumental in restocking the Mariners farm in the event that this experiment doesn’t work out.
And, while we’re on the subject of closers, we’ll move on to one of the other bigger moves made this week, as Santiago Casilla returned to his former team on the on the other side of the bay on a two-year, $11 million deal with $3 million of incentives. You may remember Casilla from such 2016 thrillers as “Dial BS for Blown Save” or “Misery,” as he tied the league for blown saves with nine. Of course, no matter how much they help you win your fantasy league, saves are up there with wins in terms of stats that don’t really tell you much in terms of what to expect re: future performance.
In his last seven seasons with the Giants, Casilla has been generally excellent, with a 2.42 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 over that time. He ranks near the top of the list over that same period when you look at the win probability statistics (WPA and RE24, to name a couple) that are a good way to look at relievers. While he’ll turn 37 next July, he has yet to really lose any significant velocity on his fastball, which is still routinely in the mid-90s. His 2016 was actually the best season of his career in terms of K/9 (10.09) and BB/9 (2.95). The biggest problem for Casilla seemed to be a problem of poorly timed homeruns, as he had the worst season of his career in that department (1.24 HR/9).
Grade for Oakland: B+
On the whole, Casilla has been extremely solid in his extended time in the majors and he hasn’t really lost any velocity. If his HR/9 regresses a bit towards his normal numbers, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect Casilla to bounce back this year and and is a respectable bet to provide Oakland with either a closer or setup guy in the event that somehow end up contending or, more likely, some trade bait for a contending team in need of one.