M’s, Rainiers Add Players

Seattle made its first trade of the Winter Meetings yesterday, sending starter Roenis Elias and reliever Carson Smith to the Boston Red Sox for starter Wade Miley and reliever Jonathan Aro.

Miley replaces Hisashi Iwakuma in the starting rotation. He’s a reliable left-hander who did not have a terrific 2015 season (11-11, 4.46) but has been really good in the past when he was with Arizona. He was an all-star in 2012 and is 29 years old.

Aro is a player we’ll likely see in Tacoma next year. A right-handed reliever, Aro made a fast rise through the Boston farm system to briefly reach the big leagues last year. In 26 games for Triple-A Pawtucket last season he posted a 3.14 ERA, with 53 strikeouts and ten walks in 51 innings. Apparently his pitches sink – he’s allowed only 13 home runs in 301 professional innings pitched.

From the reaction of fans on social media, it appears that many were upset about trading Carson Smith. He was one of the few positives in the much-maligned 2015 Mariners bullpen – a bullpen which still needs a lot of help. General Manager Jerry Dipoto must figure that it is going to be easier to find quality relief pitchers than starting pitchers.

Elias was the Mariners sixth starter, so now the team needs more depth in the rotation. Seattle’s current rotation (not in any particular order other than No. 1) is Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker, Miley, Nathan Karns, and James Paxton.

Because of Paxton’s injury history the team absolutely needs another starting pitcher with big league experience.

We did get an addition to the Tacoma starting rotation yesterday.

The Mariners signed pitcher Donn Roach to a minor league contract and invited him to big league spring training. Roach is the first minor league free agent and likely Tacoma Rainiers player signed by the club this offseason.

Roach is a right-handed starting pitcher from Las Vegas who turns 26 years old on Monday. He was teammates with Bryce Harper at the College of Southern Nevada in 2010.

The Angels selected Roach in the third round of the 2010 draft and traded him to the Padres in 2012. Roach reached Triple-A in 2014 and made 19 appearances (13 starts) for El Paso that season, while also making 16 appearances in the majors for San Diego.

Last year Roach bounced around the waiver wire, pitching for three different Triple-A clubs and starting one game for the Chicago Cubs.

Roach provides starting pitching depth for the Mariners. Look for him to take a regular turn in the Tacoma starting rotation in 2016, and be ready when needed in Seattle.

Right before I posted this, Buster Olney tweeted that the Mariners have signed veteran first baseman Mike Baxter to a Triple-A contract. Baxter becomes a likely 2016 Tacoma Rainiers player.

The 31-year-old Baxter has been playing in Triple-A or the big leagues since 2009. In the PCL he’s played for Portland, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and last year Iowa.

He’s also appeared in 232 major league games – with a lot of pinch-hitting duty – for the Padres, Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs.

Playing left field, Baxter made a famous catch in Mets history to help preserve Johan Santana‘s no-hitter in 2012.

He’s a career .285 hitter at the Triple-A level, with a .369 OBP. More of a line drive hitter, much of his power comes in the form of doubles.

Baxter will be in Tacoma’s 1B/LF/DH mix come March.

Links:

Yesterday as soon as I posted the blog the Mariners made a trade. Will we have a repeat? There are Adam Lind rumors floating around…

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