M’s Get Their Starter and How It Affects Tacoma

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto completed his quest to add a starting pitcher yesterday, making two trades to acquire left-hander Drew Smyly from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Dipoto had to pull some strings. He knew Tampa wanted Atlanta Braves outfielder Mallex Smith, and apparently the Rays couldn’t work out their own trade to get Smith.

So Dipoto traded two young left-handed pitching prospects to Atlanta in order to acquire Smith. Pitchers Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows went to the Braves, with the Mariners getting Smith and pitcher Shae Simmons.

Then Dipoto flipped Smith, expected Rainiers starter Ryan Yarbrough, and teenage infield prospect Carlos Vargas to Tampa to get Drew Smyly.

Smyly is established in the American League, and in the articles linked below Dipoto says he has been targeting him all winter.

To get Smyly, the M’s gave up a top prospect in Gohara, who is very talented but a long way away from the major leagues. Carlos Vargas received a huge signing bonus and hit for power in the Dominican Summer League, but he’s even farther from the majors. We had Yarbrough inked into the Rainiers rotation, but now he’s gone – he’s a polished lefty who was really good at Double-A in 2016. Burrows is a relief prospect.

The M’s also added Simmons, who is a potential major league reliever this season. Simmons reached the majors in 2014, hurt his elbow and required Tommy John surgery, and made his comeback last year. Simmons could pitch for Tacoma or Seattle (or both) in 2017.

In all of this shuffling, the Mariners removed Cody Martin from the 40-man roster and he is currently on waivers. If he doesn’t get claimed by another team, the Mariners will outright him to Tacoma. Martin was terrific for the Rainiers last year, and he is a PCL dream: he works quickly and throws strikes.

Despite the loss of Yarbrough and the potential loss of Martin, the moves don’t do too much damage to the Rainiers starting rotation. By adding Smyly, others got pushed down a spot on the ladder. Suddenly pitchers who looked like major league rotation candidates are now Tacoma possibilities. Ariel Miranda and Chris Heston are two pitchers with recent major league starting experience who might find themselves in Tacoma in April. A lot of it will depend on team health coming out of spring training.

The Mariners rotation (not in order) is looking like Felix, Iwakuma, Paxton, Gallardo, Smyly. Tacoma will probably have Heston, Miranda (if he’s not in the Seattle bullpen), Rob Whalen, Christian Bergman, Sam Gaviglio, and maybe one of the prospecty-guys like Andrew Moore or Max Povse.

I was planning to preview the potential Rainiers middle infielders today but that subject deserves its own post. We’ll look at Tacoma’s middle infielders next week.

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