By Simon Farber, Staff Reporter
The Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners have kick-started the offseason with a six player deal, the teams announced Thursday night. This is the first transaction made by new Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto, who was given the job on September 29th. The swap consists of three players from each side, with shortstop Brad Miller, first baseman Logan Morrison, and pitcher Danny Farquhar being sent to Tampa Bay. In return, the Mariners receive pitchers Nate Karns and C.J. Riefenhauser, and outfielder Boog Powell. Here’s a look at each player involved in the deal and how they fit in with their new teams:
Nate Karns, P (7-5, 3.67 ERA in 147.0 IP for Tampa Bay)
Karns was shut down towards the end of the season due to forearm tightness, but pitched effectively when he was healthy. In 26 starts, the rookie compiled 145 strikeouts while allowing just 56 walks. With 90-94 MPH fastball velocity, the 27-year old is no flame-thrower. However, his strong slider helps him stay in control of the strike zone, as evidenced by his high K/BB ratio. With free-agent Hisashi Iwakuma possible leaving Seattle, Karns should slip right into the Mariners rotation.
C.J Riefenhauser, P (1-0, 5.52 ERA in 14.2 IP for Tampa Bay)
Riefenhauser didn’t spend much time on the major league team in 2015, getting just 17 appearances out of the bullpen. The 26-year old has a below average fastball (88-90 MPH), but adds three offspeed pitches to his repertoire: a slider, curveball, and changeup. With average command, Riefenhauser may receive a shot at the Mariners roster, but figures to begin next season in the minor leagues.
Boog Powell, OF (.257, 2 HR, 18 RBI at Triple-A Durham)
Powell brings speed, contact, and defense to the table, and quite possible may be the best player acquired in the trade. Despite being suspended for 50 games in 2014, Powell played well in his stints at both Double-A and Triple-A. At just 23 years old, Powell has a chance to break camp as a member of the major league team next spring. He’s not one of the fastest prospects in baseball, but his smart baserunning adds the stolen-base threat into his game.
Tampa Bay Rays
Brad Miller, SS (.258, 11 HR, 46 RBI for Seattle)
Miller provides depth for the Rays in the infield, and the 26-year old is capable of playing the outfield as well. In his third full major league season, Miller mashed eleven homeruns, a high total for a shortstop. The contact wasn’t quite there, though. His average hovered around .240 for the majority of the season, and he was only able to muscle 37 extra-base hits in 438 at-bats. A platoon job seems most plausible for the young shortstop with his new club in Tampa Bay.
Logan Morrison, 1B (.225, 17 HR, 54 RBI for Seattle)
Morrison is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, and will become a free agent after the season. His power bat is a plus for the 28-year old, who struggles to make consistent contact. In six big league seasons, the Los Angeles native has hit 70 long balls, with a career high 23 coming in 2011. Despite playing mostly first base in Seattle, Morrison figures to get some reps as the designated hitter in Tampa Bay, as his lefty bat should play well at Tropicana Field.
Danny Farquhar, P (1-8, 5.12 ERA in 51.0 for Seattle)
Farquhar struggled mightily this season, compiling an ERA above five in 43 appearances out of the Mariners’ bullpen. His dropoff was a surprising one, as the righty had an ERA of 2.63 in 2014, almost three full points below this year’s total. Tampa Bay should give Farquhar a legit shot at the major league roster despite his struggles, as he has been very successful in the past.
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