Catching Up

I’m back from a little vacation and a lot has happened. Let’s get caught up.

The Mariners made their first trade under new GM Jerry Dipoto.

On Thursday afternoon the Mariners announced that they traded Brad Miller, Danny Farquhar, and Logan Morrison to the Tampa Bay Rays.

In return, Seattle received major league starting pitcher Nathan Karns, Triple-A reliever C.J. Riefenhauser, and outfield prospect Boog Powell.

Karns provides some much-needed starting pitching depth and figures to slot into the back of the Mariners rotation. Riefenhauser is a lefty who has had a few cups of coffee in the big leagues and should get a chance to crack the Mariners big league bullpen.

Unlike his namesake, Powell is a speedy outfielder who has posted strong on-base percentages in the minor leagues. The 22-year-old had a great first half at the Double-A level for the Rays last year – he was on the Montgomery Biscuits! – and then his numbers came down during a two-month stint at Triple-A Durham. He figures to open the 2016 season with Tacoma, and will hopefully be ready for the majors at some point during the summer.

The big loss in the trade is Miller, who I still believe can become a productive major leaguer. Farquhar struggled in Seattle last year and ended up spending a lot of time with Tacoma, and the arbitration-eligible Morrison was unlikely to be tendered a contract for 2016 by the Mariners.

This trade indicates Dipoto was serious when he said he wants to build a team this fits Safeco Field. He picked up a speedy, contact-hitting outfield prospect in Powell and jettisoned Logan Morrison – making it appear as if we’ll be looking at first baseman Mark Trumbo and DH Nelson Cruz next year. The team needs more outfielders, though.

Also the trade apparently shows that they like what they saw from Ketel Marte and are going to move forward with him as the starting shortstop. Unless they trade for another shortstop – the offseason is still young.

Seattle claimed outfielder Daniel Robertson off waivers.

The short, quick outfielder had a pair of real strong seasons in the PCL for Tucson in 2012 and 2013, and last year tailed off a bit for Salt Lake. He’s been in the majors with both the Texas Rangers and the LA Angels, and now he’ll try to cross another AL West team off his list.

Robertson has minor league options remaining. He’ll either make the Mariners as an extra outfielder or we’ll be seeing him here at Cheney Stadium.

The minor league free agent list was released.

Here is a list of Mariners players who have six full years of minor league service and are not on the 40-man roster. They are now free agents:

RHP: Oliver Garcia (AA), Moises Hernandez (AA), Luis Jimenez (DSL), J.C. Ramirez (AAA), Kyle Schepel (AAA), Richard Vargas (AA), Chien-Ming Wang (AAA)
LHP: Joselito Cano (SS), Anthony Fernandez (AA), James Gillheeney (AA), Lucas Luetge (AAA)
C: Carlton Tanabe (Hi A)
1B: Ji-Man Choi (AAA), Patrick Leyland (Lo A), Aderlin Rodriguez (AA)
3B: Leury Bonilla (AAA), Jordy Lara (AA)
OF: Arby Fields (Lo A), Burt Reynolds (Lo A)

The free agents who spent the most time with Tacoma are J.C. Ramirez, Chien-Ming Wang, James Gillheeney, Lucas Luetge, Ji-Man Choi, and Leury Bonilla.

The Mariners could re-sign any of these guys – I’m sure they’ll re-sign Leury Bonilla, who has been a free agent and re-signed each of the last two winters.

Choi is an interesting case. He was once on the Mariners 40-man roster, but he barely played last year due to a broken leg suffered in spring training. Choi is currently playing for Tacoma manager Pat Listach down in the Dominican Winter League. Listach and Mariners scouts will be checking on his progress to see if they want to re-sign him.

Coaching Shuffle

The Mariners announced that first base/infield coach (and former Rainiers shortstop) Chris Woodward opted to not return for 2016, saying he wanted to be closer to his family in Florida. He jumped right into coaching as soon as his lengthy playing career ended three years ago, and never took that time off at home to be with the kids more. Look for him to be either coaching for one of the Florida teams or working in a roving/scouting capacity which allows him to spend some time at home during the season.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the M’s are bringing in former major league manager Manny Acta as the third base coach. This has the appearance of a good hire: the Mariners need another Latin American on the coaching staff, and the Dominican Acta is highly respected in the game.

Even with Acta, the Mariners still need a first base coach who can work with the infielders. Listach would be a logical fit, but he’s still getting to know all of the new faces around here just like everybody else.

Sacramento pitcher Tommy Hanson passed away.

The former Atlanta Braves starter fell into a coma and passed away yesterday. Hanson pitched for both Salt Lake and Sacramento in the PCL, and he made two starts at Cheney Stadium last year.

Our condolences to his family and friends. Twenty-nine is far too young.

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