Seattle Mariners – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-17T03:40:40Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jerry Dipoto On Mariners’ Struggles, Interest In Retaining Nelson Cruz]]> 2018-09-14T23:15:21Z 2018-09-14T23:15:21Z In his most recent appearance on 710 ESPN radio (audio link), Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto discussed his club’s disappointing fade in the postseason race. What had seemed an inevitable march to a Wild Card has turned into a lost cause as the division-rival A’s sprinted past.

It long seemed that the M’s were outperforming their true talent level, but the collapse has still been surprising (albeit less so than the corresponding Oakland surge). Seattle is still 14 games over .500, but it sat over twenty games over for much of late June and July.

Dipoto admitted that the club is at a “bit of a crossroads” at this point, having seen a hoped-for postseason return fall out of its grasp. “We should be embarrassed by it and I am,” says the veteran executive, who says it feels as if the club has “taken two steps forward and then three steps back” over the course of the season.

It’s interesting to hear Dipoto describe things in that manner, as the organization seems largely to be set up to continue pressing forward after the present season. After all, its 2019 payroll already includes over $125MM in guaranteed money before accounting for arbitration salaries or outside acquisitions. Of course, Dipoto could perhaps be referring more to the team’s approaches to roster building and commitments to specific players than its determination to pursue near-term contention.

Notably, that upcoming salary figure also doesn’t include a salary for veteran slugger Nelson Cruz, who is the team’s top pending free agent. Dipoto highlighted Cruz as one of the season’s highlights in the above-linked chat. And he has made clear in other recent comments that the Mariners have every intention of trying to keep him in the fold, as Corey Brock of The Athletic explores (subscription link).

As Dipoto put it in an interview with Seattle’s KIRO-AM:

“I don’t think you could increase the chances we’d want to, the chances we want to are already very high. Everybody wants Nelson here, there’s no question about that.”

Just how contract talks will proceed isn’t clear, but they won’t be impacted by the qualifying offer process since Cruz isn’t eligible to receive one. The 38-year-old would otherwise seem a reasonable recipient despite his advanced age. After all, he has done nothing but mash since coming to Seattle. Through nearly 2,500 plate appearances over the past four seasons, he carries a ridiculous .286/.365/.553 slash with 162 home runs.

Interestingly, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times noted back in June that the organization has already made a run at “a contract setup similar to David Ortiz’s final years in Boston” — i.e., a hefty single-year guarantee with a series of options, at least some of which had vesting elements. Evidently, that approach (or other details of the offer) didn’t strike Cruz’s fancy, at least not to the extent that he was willing to make a deal before the start of the season.

Now that Cruz will have another productive year in the books, he can certainly seek a multi-year deal if he prefers. As Brock explains, some recent injuries are perhaps more a reflection of misfortune than deterioration, and Cruz is a noted workout fiend. Though he’ll be limited to American League teams, and will face a market that hasn’t favored defensively-limited sluggers, Cruz will surely be a popular target if he makes it to free agency.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[AL West Notes: Felix, Lowrie, Cahill, Skaggs, Calhoun, Listach]]> 2018-09-14T00:37:07Z 2018-09-14T00:25:24Z Mariners fans in particular will want to read up on the club’s faded ace, Felix Hernandez, in this piece from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. The veteran hurler has taken his downfall hard, but he’s still working to rediscover the magic that once made him one of the game’s very best pitchers. Of course, his lost fastball velocity means the odds are long; it’s still in full retreat despite the fact that Hernandez says his “body feels good” after dealing with injuries over the past two seasons. It’s a well-conceived and well-paced story — at once deep and, refreshingly, not unnecessarily lengthy — with some notable observations from current and former M’s personnel and others close to Hernandez.

More from the AL West:

  • Athletics second baseman Jed Lowrie acknowledged today in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link) that he has had some contact with the club about staying on past the present season. The team’s interest in maintaining the relationship has been known for some time, but it’s interesting nevertheless to hear Lowrie address the matter. To this point, Lowrie says, talks haven’t moved past an initial expression of interest. But he says he likes it in Oakland and believes he fits the club well, so it certainly sounds as if the good vibes flow in both directions. No doubt that’s due in some part to the immense success both player and team have found this year. It’s a second-straight eyebrow-raising season at the plate for Lowrie, who owns a healthy .276/.360/.455 slash since the start of the 2017 campaign. He has set himself up for an interesting trip onto the open market — if nothing comes together first with the A’s.
  • In yet more unwelcome health news for the Athletics, righty Trevor Cahill has gone down with a rhomboid muscle strain, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The upper-back ailment comes at an uncomfortable proximity to the postseason, though it seems as if the expectation is he won’t miss more than a single start. To be sure that things aren’t more serious, Cahill is headed in for an MRI.
  • Angels southpaw Tyler Skaggs was able to work up to a 48-pitch sim game today, skipper Mike Scioscia tells reporters including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). It’s still not clear whether he’ll return to the majors this year, though that figures to be a topic of discussion in the coming days. The 27-year-old, who is rehabbing from an adductor strain, is looking to extend his personal-best 116 2/3-inning, 3.78 ERA showing on the season. Whether or not he’s able to do so, Skaggs has impressed and now seems to be one of the club’s best bets to provide quality frames in 2019 — if he can stay healthy. Skaggs will likely command a nice raise in his second-to-last trip through the arbitration process after earning $1,875,000 this year.
  • It’s still not clear when Rangers prospect Willie Calhoun will get his first real crack at the big leagues. As T.R. Sullivan of writes, Calhoun had seemed likely to see much more action in the 2018 season. Instead, after a relatively tepid season at the plate at the Triple-A level, Calhoun is seeing scattered time late this season. It seems the organization still wants to see more from the key piece of last year’s Yu Darvish swap before clearing the way. Beyond his known deficiencies in the field and on the bases, manager Jeff Banister seemingly hinted that there are some strength and conditioning steps that the youngster could take to improve.
  • In other Mariners news, the club will part ways with Triple-A skipper and longtime big leaguer player Pat Listach, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times recently tweeted. That’ll put an end to a four-year run at Tacoma for the former infielder, who has at times been mentioned as a future MLB managerial candidate.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Hisashi Iwakuma To Return To Japan]]> 2018-09-12T14:44:26Z 2018-09-12T14:44:26Z Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that he will conclude his tenure with the Mariners and return to his native Japan. That does not mean, however, that he’s calling his playing career quits.

Hisashi Iwakuma

Iwakuma had been trying to return from shoulder surgery, but only made it to a pair of rehab appearances. While he was not able to get all the way back to the big league mound, the 37-year-old says he still hopes to pitch in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in the future.

As Iwakuma put it: “Looking at the big picture, it’s been long process of rehab, and finally in this long tunnel, I’m starting to see light. … I wanted to explore how much more I could do back in Japan and see if there any teams are interested in me.”

Though he did not come to the majors until his age-31 season, following a strong decade-long NPB run, Iwakuma certainly made his mark at the game’s highest level. He ended up throwing 883 2/3 innings of 3.42 ERA ball, all of them coming with the Seattle organization.

It’s easy to forget just how effective ’Kuma was over the years. He never posted gaudy strikeout rates, but rarely gave up free passes and (in his first three seasons, at least) drew groundballs on about half the balls put in play against him.

His best overall season, unquestionably, came in 2013. Iwakuma came up one out shy of accumulating 220 frames and ended the year with a 2.66 ERA and 7.6 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9. He earned his lone All-Star nod in the midst of that campaign, which ended with a third-place finish in the American League Cy Young voting.

Of course, injuries limited Iwakuma more recently. Problems identified on his physical scuttled a three-year, $45MM contract with the Dodgers after the 2015 season. He ended up returning to the M’s on a deal that included a $12MM guarantee and rolling vesting/club options. While the first campaign under that agreement worked out well enough, as Iwakuma threw 199 innings with a 4.12 ERA, he only made six starts with the team in the 2017 season. After the option was declined, Iwakuma ended up returning on a minor-league deal — the same contract that is now coming to a conclusion.

As he prepares to return to Japan, it’s interesting to look back on the circumstances surrounding his original decision to cross the Pacific. Iwakuma was actually posted in the fall of 2010, with the Athletics winning the bidding under the system in place at that time. When Oakland failed to work out a deal with Iwakuma, he pitched a final season in Japan before drawing interest again as a free agent.

Unfortunately, though he was effective in that intervening campaign, Iwakuma also was limited that year by shoulder issues. He ended up signing an incentive-laden, one-year deal with the M’s for only a $1.5MM guarantee. The Seattle club wisely doubled down on that initial investment in the ensuing offseason with a two-year, $14MM extension that included a cheap, $7MM option for the 2015 season.

Though he spent a relatively brief portion of his career in the majors, Iwakuma rates as one of the better Japanese starters ever to ply his trade at the game’s highest level. Where does he rate among them? That’s up for debate, certainly, but those interested in weighing the question can check out this list I compiled of ten prominent Japanese hurlers who’ve compile a notable number of MLB starts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 9/5/18]]> 2018-09-06T02:04:22Z 2018-09-06T02:03:41Z We’ll track Wednesday’s moves from around the league here…

  • After recently being designated for assignment, lefty Danny Coulombe was outrighted today by the Athletics. The 28-year-old has generated 9.9 K/9 on the year, while generating a strong 13.5% swinging-strike rate, but has also allowed 4.2 walks and 1.9 home runs per nine innings. He has surrendered a dozen earned runs in his 23 2/3 frames, but the more concerning number is the batting line posted this year by opposing southpaw hitters: .317/.364/.512.

Earlier Moves

  • The Mariners announced that right-hander Rob Whalen has been outrighted off the 40-man roster following his DFA on Saturday. The 24-year-old tossed four shutout innings for the Mariners this season but carries an ugly 5.16 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 0.45 HR/9 in 99 1/3 innings with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. The former Mets/Braves farmhand has a career 5.75 ERA in 36 big league innings.
  • The Phillies announced that infielder Jesmuel Valentin has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment and been sent outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 24-year-old switch-hitter managed just a .177/.258/.304 slash through 89 plate appearances in the Majors this season and turned in a fairly underwhelming .240/.346/.341 slash in Triple-A prior to being removed from the 40-man roster. Valentin’s bat has wilted as he’s climbed the minor league ranks and faced more advanced competition, and he’s not considered a strong enough defender up the middle to be a glove-first utility option.
  • Right-hander Evan Marshall has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus by the Indians, the team announced. Marshall threw well in 24 Triple-A innings this season (1.13 ERA, 21-to-3 K/BB ratio, 66.2 percent grounder rate) and picked up nine punchouts with a 56.5 percent ground-ball rate in the big league ’pen. He missed time earlier in the year with a right elbow issue, though, and has been hampered by numerous other issues in the past — most notably a terrifying, near-fatal skull fracture suffered in 2015 when he was struck in the head by a line-drive comebacker while pitching for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. If he doesn’t return to the Majors this season, the 28-year-old should find plenty of interest as a minor league free agent over the winter, given his strong showing in Triple-A and a lengthy track record of inducing grounders (55.9 percent in 92 2/3 MLB innings) and missing bats (career 12.5 percent swinging-strike rate).
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Gordon, Segura Reportedly Part Of Clubhouse Skirmish]]> 2018-09-05T18:36:39Z 2018-09-05T18:35:41Z Tensions boiled over in the Mariners’ clubhouse yesterday, as a physical altercation broke out and briefly spilled beyond the closed doors where the media waited on the other side, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times was among the many to report. According to Divish, Dee Gordon and Jean Segura may have been at the center of the quarrel after Gordon misplayed a ball in center field, though no players were willing to divulge any real details. Robinson Cano, one of the players who could be seen breaking up the skirmish, simply said following the incident that “Everybody’s good.”

Manager Scott Servais wasn’t in the clubhouse at the time but told reporters that such incidents are more common than most would think. “I played for 11 years in the big leagues and it’s almost every year with every team I’ve been a part of,” the manager explained. Seattle has fallen to 5.5 games back from a Wild Card spot as it attempts to end the game’s longest playoff drought. With a combined six games remaining against the Yankees and A’s, who currently hold those Wild Card spots, plus 10 games against the last-place Orioles, Padres and Rangers, there’s still time for the Mariners to turn things around.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners Notes: Gonzales, Segura, Haniger, Cruz]]> 2018-09-02T23:24:08Z 2018-09-02T23:23:47Z Here’s the latest from the city of Jimi Hendrix and Frasier Crane…

  • Marco Gonzales is hopeful that he can return from the disabled list to start during the Mariners’ series with the Yankees this weekend,’s Greg Johns was among those to report.  A cervical neck muscle strain forced Gonzales to the 10-day DL on August 27, though the left-hander had no issues while playing catch today.  Gonzales will throw a light bullpen session Monday and another later in the week with an eye towards starting against New York.  “The silver lining” of the absence, Gonzales told Johns and other reporters, is that he has had time to rest his arm and perhaps get a bit of a reset after struggling badly over his last four outings.
  • The November 2016 deal that brought Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger to Seattle has turned into one of the best trades in recent Mariners history, with the two both quickly becoming cornerstone players for the M’s.  The Athletic’s Corey Brock (subscription required) looks back at the trade with GM Jerry Dipoto, who broke down some of the talks between he and Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen, and how Segura and Haniger were identified as targets.
  • In a mailbag piece for the Seattle Times, Ryan Divish notes that the two biggest questions surrounding the Mariners’ offseason will be whether or not to re-sign Nelson Cruz, and what position Dee Gordon will play in 2019.  The two questions go hand-in-hand, particularly in regards to Robinson Cano — if Cruz leaves, Cano will see more DH time and Gordon could play more at his natural second base position.  If Cruz stays as the full-time DH, however, Cano will see regular time at second while Gordon could return to the outfield.  Ryon Healy’s future with the team is also a factor, as Cano could also be deployed at first base.  It will be an interesting positional juggle for the M’s, plus we can’t rule out Dipoto trying another unconventional solution (i.e. the decision to acquire Gordon and use him as a center fielder in the first place).
Kyle Downing <![CDATA[September Call-Ups: 9/1/18]]> 2018-09-01T22:38:55Z 2018-09-01T21:24:34Z A few call-ups were announced yesterday, but we’re likely to see far more prospect promotions and even contract selections take place today as rosters expand. We’ll use this post to keep track of those moves…

  • The Marlins selected the contract of righty starter Jeff Brigham today; he’ll be among those playing in the majors for the first time ever. Brigham’s solid 3.44 ERA in Triple-A this season is muddied a bit by his 4.45 FIP, but he’s maintained solid ratios. Brigham’s 8.25 K/9 and brilliant 2.24 BB/9 give him a solid 3.69 K/BB ratio that probably looks quite nice to a Marlins club that’s hurting for serviceable major league starters. Miami has also recalled right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Nick Wittgren along with catcher Chad Wallach.
  • The Athletics selected several contracts today, including that of catching prospect Beau Taylor. The lefty-hitting backstop has never played in the majors, but he’s done well for himself at the Triple-A level this season by drawing walks in 14% of his plate appearances while hitting .248. He’s even chipped in a pair of stolen bases. The biggest knock on Taylor is his lack of power; the 28-year-old owns a sub-.100 ISO and has never hit more than eight homers in a given season. Other contracts selected by the Astros today include those of lefty Dean Kiekhefer and righties Chris Hatcher and Liam Hendriks. The A’s recalled lefty Daniel Coulombe and shortstop Franklin Barreto as well.  
  • The Indians selected the contract of right-hander Jon Edwards today, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old Edwards has done well for himself in the Tribe’s minor league system in 2018, though, racking up 56 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings while pitching to a 3.64 ERA. Though he’s exhibited extreme control issues in the past, his 2.70 BB/9 in 30 innings with Triple-A Columbus suggests there’s a possibility he’s put those problems behind him. The Tribe promoted catcher Eric Haase to the majors alongside him.


  • The Mariners have selected the contract of Justin Grimm among their September moves, whom they signed to a minor league contract on July 25th. Grimm’s been plagued by shoulder and back issues all season and struggled to a cataclysmic 13.50 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Royals earlier this season, which led to his release early on in the summer. With the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, though, he’s put up a pristine 1.64 ERA and an even more impressive 13.91 K/9 mark. In addition to Grimm, Seattle also selected the contract of Kristopher Negron, and recalled right-handers Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook, lefty James Pazos, catcher David Freitas.
  • The Nationals have selected the contract of right-hander Austen Williams, who’ll be getting his first MLB cup of coffee this September. He’s been quite impressive in the upper minors this season, including a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. That’s backed up by excellent peripherals, including 20 strikeouts against just four walks. Williams had pitched exclusively as a starter until this season, and it appears a transition to a relief role has catapulted him to a status as an incredibly intriguing talent. The Nats also recalled catcher Pedro Severino to fill in while Wieters is dealing with a hip/groin injury (per Jamal Collier of
  • The White Sox promoted Caleb Frare to get his first taste of the bigs; as James Fegan of The Athletic points out, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the coming winter’s Rule 5 Draft. They’ve good reason to do so, as the lefty reliever has thrived with the organization ever since being acquired from the Yankees a month ago in exchange for $1.5MM in international bonus pool funds. He’s put up fantastic numbers in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, including a 0.71 ERA and 13.50 K/9. Aaron Bummer will join him as the other White Sox player to receive a September promotion so far.
  • The Royals have selected the contract of catcher Meibrys Viloria to account for the hole left by Drew Butera, who was traded to the Rockies yesterday. Fascinatingly, Kansas City decided to promote the 21-year-old Columbia native even though he’s never played above the High-A level. He’s done just fine there, though, batting .260/.342/.360 in 407 plate appearances over the course of 2018. Viriola is expected to maje his MLB debut as early as this week while mainstay catcher Salvador Perez deals with a sprained thumb.
  • After a short stay in the minors, righty reliever Ray Black is back up with the Giants. He’s had a poor showing in the majors so far, allowing ten earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He did manage to strike out 22 batters in that span, though, and owns a 2.11 FIP in 25 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. His blistering 16.13 K/9 at that level perhaps speaks to his potential even more.
  • The Cardinals recalled catcher Carson Kelly today, who’s widely considered to be the club’s catcher of the future once Yadier Molina’s contract is complete. However, he’s yet to prove his worth at the major-league level, as evidenced by his .150/.216/.187 batting line across 118 MLB plate appearances. The Redbirds have also called up lefty Tyler Webb and righty Daniel Poncedeleon.
  • The Phillies have opted to recall outfielder Aaron Altherr, who’d largely been a fixture in the club’s major-league outfield for the past two seasons prior to a late-July demotion. While his 13.3% walk rate so far this season was downright fantastic, that was about the only aspect of Altherr’s performance to be happy about; he was striking out at a 32.7% clip while hitting just .171 and slugging just .305. Philadelphia also added outfielder Dylan Cozens and righty reliever Yacksel Rios to their active roster.
  • The Yankees are set to give right-hander Stephen Tarpley his first taste of major-league action after selecting his contract earlier today. Tarpley is quite an interesting arm-he’s been utilized as a multi-inning reliever at two levels of the minors this year, and to great effect. Most recently, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 10.06 K/9 across 17 appearances spanning 34 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Infielder Tyler Wade and right-hander Luis Cessa will also join the MLB club as rosters expand.
  • The Mets will give righty Eric Hanhold his first taste of major-league action, MLBTR has learned. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Neil Walker to the Brewers, Hanhold has apparently been quite unlucky to own his 7.11 ERA at Triple-A this season. Rather, his 3.43 FIP in 19 innings at that level produces some level of optimism that he can serve as a quality reliever in the majors. A .429 BABIP and 2.86 K/BB ratio further strengthen that case.
  • The Reds are set to give shortstop prospect Blake Trahan a September call-up, as C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic was among those to tweet. Trahan came to the Reds by way of the club’s third-round draft pick back in 2015. He did not rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects in the publication’s most recent rankings, though Fangraphs ranks him 24th in that regard thanks to a 55 speed tool and a 60-grade arm. He’s also likely to be a league-average shortstop. That’s about all there is to like about Trahan at present, as he’s only hit .245/.327/.302 at the minors’ highest level.
  • The Reds have also recalled Lucas Sims, who arrived in Cincinnati just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline as part of the package in exchange for sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Sims owns a 5.96 ERA and 7.15 K/9 in a Braves uniform, but his minors track record indicates he might have better days yet to come; the righty has managed to strike out at least ten batters per nine innings at every level of the minors post-Rookie ball, and has a sub-4.00 MiLB ERA in each of the past two seasons.
  • The Twins will promote right-hander Zach Littell, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Littell has but 3 1/3 innings of MLB experience, during which time he allowed seven earned runs with one strikeout en route to a demotion. His 3.57 ERA at Triple-A this season is far more palatable, albeit unspectacular.
  • The Twins also announced that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Vasquez, who’ll be receiving his first cup of coffee after pitching to a sub-1.50 ERA out of minor-league bullpens across the past three seasons combined. They’ve also selected catcher Chris Gimenez in addition to recalling outfielder Johnny Field and right-hander Tyler Duffey.
  • The Red Sox have officially recalled five players, including first base/outfield type Sam Travis. After serving as a somewhat serviceable piece in 2017 (.263/.325/.342 batting line), Travis has struggled in limited major-league action this year to the tune of a 45 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR. Boston has also promoted left-handers Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott, as well as right-hander William Cuevas and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin.
  • The Tigers have recalled right-hander Sandy Baez from Double-A Erie, per a club announcement. Baez made his major-league debut back on June 4th, entering the game in relief during a double-header. He didn’t allow any runs in 4 1/3 innings, though he did walk three batters in that appearance. Aside from that, Baez has never pitched above Double-A, and owns a troublesome 5.64 ERA there on the 2018 season, in part due to command issues.
Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Mariners Outright Christian Bergman, Designate Rob Whalen, Activate James Paxton]]> 2018-09-01T18:33:04Z 2018-09-01T18:33:04Z The Mariners have announced a flurry of roster moves amidst their September call-ups. Among the most notable transactions: lefty James Paxton has been activated from the 10-day disabled list, righty Christian Bergman has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, and righty Rob Whalen has been designated for assignment. The latter two moves were made to clear room on the roster for the contract selections of utilityman Kristopher Negron and righty Justin Grimm.

Paxton has been on the disabled list for the past two weeks after being struck in the left arm by a comebacker. While there was thankfully no structural damage to his pitching arm, the concerns were apparently heavy enough to warrant a trip to the DL. Paxton has been one of the bright spots for the Mariners this season, pitching to a respectable 3.68 ERA that actually seems unlucky when compared to his 3.12 FIP. His 2018 resume also includes 176 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings, as well as a no-hitter against the Blue Jays on May 8th.

Bergman, 30, has made appearances in the majors during each of the past five seasons, pitching for both the Rockies and Mariners. He’s never managed to contribute a whole lot of value, though, as he’s never mustered an ERA south of 4.74 in a given season. Perhaps that’s in part due to his inability to strike batters out; Bergman’s career K/9 sits at just 5.43, while his 39.1% ground ball rate is nothing special, either.

Whalen’s spent time with the Braves organization during his career, but he’s spent the past two seasons with the Mariners. He pitched four innings in long relief against the Red Sox on June 15th, allowing just a hit, a walk, and no earned runs. He failed to strike anyone out, though, and his more extensive Triple-A track record suggests he’s obviously far more flawed than a 0.00 ERA pitcher. In 99 1/3 innings at Tacoma, Whalen’s posted a 5.16 ERA (4.03 FIP) while striking out just under a batter per inning.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Acquire Kristopher Negron From Diamondbacks]]> 2018-08-30T18:49:43Z 2018-08-30T18:40:20Z The Mariners announced today that they’ve acquired infielder/outfielder Kristopher Negron from the D-backs in exchange for cash. He’s been assigned to Triple-A Tacoma for the time being.

Negron, 32, has seen MLB time in parts of five seasons, posting a combined .216/.297/.338 batting line in 304 trips to the plate. He appeared in a pair of games with Arizona earlier this season and 14 games last year as well, though he’d previously been outrighted off the 40-man roster and subsequently won’t require a 40-man spot on the Mariners’ roster (barring a September promotion).

Negron has big league experience at every position other than catcher and pitcher. He has nearly 5000 professional innings at shortstop under his belt but has also spent more than 1200 innings at second base and third base in addition to more than 1000 innings in the outfield corners and 998 innings in center field. He’s enjoyed a productive season in Triple-A Reno this year, hitting .283/.368/.477, though those numbers have come in an admittedly hitter-friendly setting. All told, Negron is a .249/.314/.392 hitter in parts of nine Triple-A campaigns.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Select Shawn Armstrong]]> 2018-08-28T21:29:11Z 2018-08-28T21:29:11Z The Mariners announced Tuesday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Shawn Armstrong from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned fellow right-hander Nick Rumbelow to Double-A Arkansas to open a spot on the active roster. Seattle already had an open spot on the 40-man roster, so no further moves were necessary to accommodate Armstrong’s return to the big leagues.

Armstrong, 27, saw time in the Majors with the Indians across the 2015-17 seasons but was traded to Seattle in exchange for international bonus pool space this past offseason. The Mariners exposed Armstrong to outright waivers just three months later when a need for roster space arose in Spring Training. He’d go on to clear and remain in the organization, which could prove fortuitous for the Mariners.

Through 56 innings out of the Rainiers’ bullpen in Triple-A, Armstrong has been nothing short of overpowering. He’s posted a sterling 1.77 ERA while averaging 13.2 strikeouts, 4.2 walks and 0.48 homers per nine innings pitched, collecting 15 saves along the way. It should be noted that Armstrong is no stranger to gaudy Triple-A numbers, but he’s done a better job of limiting walks this year than in recent seasons while still maintaining a hefty strikeout rate.

Armstrong will join the Mariners with 43 1/3 innings of Major League experience already under his belt from his time with the Cleveland organization. In that time, he’s pitched to a 3.53 ERA but hasn’t matched his minor league strikeout tendencies, averaging 7.9 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 with a 41.6 percent ground-ball rate.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Notes: Diaz, Gonzales, Paxton]]> 2018-08-30T23:00:48Z 2018-08-28T03:48:19Z
  • Corey Brock of The Athletic takes a look at the rise of Edwin Diaz to one of the game’s elite closers (subscription required). Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais, bullpen coach Brian DeLunas and first base coach Chris Prieto are among those to weigh in on Diaz’s ascension from a prospect who never appeared on a major Top 100 list to the second-fastest player ever to reach 100 big league saves. As Dipoto recalls, there was a fair bit of internal debate in his first offseason as GM with the team about whether to develop Diaz as a starter or a reliever. It was eventually decided to see how Diaz’s stuff would play in shorter stints and, if things didn’t go well, to then transition him back to the Majors. Diaz uncorked a 101 mph fastball on his first pitch out of the Double-A bullpen, per Dipoto, and the right-hander’s ensuing dominance made the organization’s decision fairly straightforward. Brock also chats with Astros manager A.J. Hinch and a few of Diaz’s teammates about his emergence as one of the game’s premier relievers.
  • In other Seattle pitching news, the Mariners have placed southpaw Marco Gonzales on the 10-day DL with a cervical neck muscle strain, per a club announcement. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by outfielder Guillermo Heredia. As Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes, it’s still not clear how the M’s will address the newly opened rotation hole. While it’s possible southpaw James Paxton will be ready to go in time to take the ball on Wednesday, when Gonzales had been scheduled to start, that would mean moving up his schedule. It’s certainly not an optimal situation for a Seattle club that is trying to catch up to the division-leading Astros and Athletics. Gonzales entered the month of August with a strong 3.37 ERA, but has faded of late. He coughed up eight earned runs in just three innings in his most recent start and has seen his earned-run average climb all the way to 4.32. It has been a compelling season for the 26-year-old, regardless, but as Divish explains the southpaw may be wearing down now that he has reached 145 2/3 frames on the year — a significant workload for a pitcher who has been limited by injuries for most of the past three campaigns.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Hisashi Iwakuma Begins Rehab Outing]]> 2018-08-27T00:38:07Z 2018-08-27T00:38:07Z
  • Hisashi Iwakuma pitched his first inning of the 2018 season, allowing one run on two hits during the frame as he began an A-ball rehab assignment (hat tip to’s Jake Rill).  It was Iwakuma’s first action of any kind since a minor league start in June 2017, as shoulder problems limited him to six Major League starts in 2017 and have continued to keep him sidelined all of this year, despite his undergoing arthroscopic surgery last September.  If Iwakuma can stay healthy, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has suggested that the veteran righty could see some action in Seattle’s bullpen before the season is out.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Juan Nicasio To Undergo Season-Ending Knee Surgery]]> 2018-08-26T18:22:33Z 2018-08-26T18:11:10Z Mariners reliever Juan Nicasio is scheduled to undergo season-ending knee surgery, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. It seems the procedure will be “cleanup surgery, nothing catastrophic,” Corey Brock of The Athletic adds.

    Nicasio has dealt with right knee issues throughout the season and endured multiple stints on the disabled list as a result. The 31-year-old last pitched Aug. 2, when he allowed two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning in a loss to Toronto. He’ll wrap up his season with a hideous 6.00 ERA across 42 innings, though FIP (2.99), xFIP (3.17) and SIERA (2.58) suggest Nicasio deserved far better in the run prevention department. Nicasio logged excellent strikeout and walk rates (11.36 K/9, 1.07 BB/9), to his credit, and he was victimized by an unusually high batting average on balls in play (.402) and an abnormally low strand rate (58.1 percent).

    Assuming Nicasio returns at full strength in 2019, the Mariners will hope he experiences some positive regression during what will be a contract year. Seattle signed Nicasio to a two-year, $17MM guarantee in free agency last winter, but the deal obviously hasn’t panned out thus far for the club.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Chapman, Judge, Sale, Santana, Goody, Iwakuma]]> 2018-08-25T03:24:01Z 2018-08-25T03:24:01Z Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman went in for a platelet-rich plasma treatment on his ailing left knee, David Lennon of Newsday tweets. Skipper Aaron Boone indicated that the plan is to reevaluate the high-powered lefty in two weeks’ time. That’s a bit less promising than the initial suggestion that Chapman could be back after the minimum ten-day DL stint, though there’s no indication as of yet that there’s any real concern that the injury could carry over into the postseason. For a Yankees team that is all but locked into a Wild Card play-in game, getting Chapman up to full speed by the end of September is of much greater importance than having him available for the final month of the regular season.

    • Meanwhile, the Yankees are still waiting for a breakthrough from star outfielder Aaron Judge. As Boone stated, and’s Bryan Hoch tweeted, the team has “stopped guessing” as to when Judge’s fractured wrist will be in good enough shape to allow him to resume swinging. In this case, perhaps, there’s a bit more reason to be anxious. It has been a long layoff for Judge, after all, and he’ll want to get as many plate appearances as possible before October arrives. Clearly, though, there’s not much the team can do but wait and hope the wrist improves.
    • The news is slightly more promising — though no less clear — on Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale. He’s “doing better” and “getting close,” per Boston manger Alex Cora, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports on Twitter. With a healthy division lead, the Boston organization is in no need of Sale’s services for the next five weeks. But he’s essential to the team’s World Series hopes, so getting his balky shoulder sorted out is a top priority.
    • The injured finger of Twins hurler Ervin Santana won’t require surgery, skipper Paul Molitor said and Phil Miller of the Star-Tribune tweeted. That said, the veteran is going to remain shut down until “doctors come up with a plan.” With the Twins’ season sunk and Santana not looking himself since making a brief return to the majors, the objective here is to set him up as well as possible for the future rather than rushing him back in 2018. While no decision has been made as to whether Santana will pitch again for the Twins this year, it could well be that he has already taken the mound for the club for the last time. Minnesota is unlikely to pick up its $14MM option over the right-hander, who will presumably be a popular bounceback target in the offseason to come.
    • Indians righty Nick Goody isn’t in need of a new ulnar collateral ligament, Jordan Bastian of tweets, but he is headed in for some kind of procedure. That’s rather promising news, given that the 27-year-old was making the rounds to several noted surgeons recently. Goody has missed much of the 2018 season with arm woes, making for a disappointing follow-up to his strong 2017 performance. Last year, Goody worked to a 2.80 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 54 2/3 frames. He had been on track to reach arbitration via Super Two status this fall. While he’ll have enough MLB service time to reach it, he won’t be eligible since he has not spent 86 days on the active roster this season.
    • It seems the Mariners and Hisashi Iwakuma haven’t given up entirely on the veteran hurler this year. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto said in a regular appearance on 710 ESPN (write-up via Brent Stecker) that the 37-year-old is nearing a rehab stint, in fact, though it doesn’t sound as if there’s particular cause for optimism that he’ll be a real factor this year. Iwakuma only made six starts in 2017 and hasn’t made it back to competitive action this season. Still, Dipoto suggested he’d do everything possible to get him up to the majors as a reliever down the stretch.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 8/23/18]]> 2018-08-24T18:39:46Z 2018-08-24T18:39:25Z Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…

    • The Mariners announced Friday that left-hander Ross Detwiler and infielder Zach Vincej, each of whom was designated for assignment earlier this week, have cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma. Detwiler was selected to the big league roster when Mike Leake had to be scratched due to injury. He gave the Mariners six innings of three-run ball against the Astros on short notice in what ultimately wound up to be a losing effort. The veteran southpaws has spent the summer with Seattle’s top affiliate in Tacoma and could emerge as an option with expanded rosters in September, if Seattle wants to add some additional lefties to its bullpen. As for Vincej, he’ll remain in the organization and hope to receive another look as well. He went 2-for-4 in his lone MLB appearance earlier this season and is a career .268/.336/.359 batting line in the minors while playing shortstop, second base and third base.