Mariners and Rays 1st significant trade

Mariners may have gotten the better of Rays in offseason’s first significant trade 5


Who won the offseason’s first significant trade?

The Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays completed a trade on Thursday. The trade was the first significant move made in the new offseason and it became official just four days after the completion of the World Series. So, while the new World Champion Kansas City Royals were still celebrating, the executives of the Mariners and of the Rays were already preparing for 2016, with the Mariners’ execs seeming to have the upper hand. Well, at least they got the better end of the deal.

Both the Mariners and Rays had underwhelming seasons in 2015. Both finished fourth in their respective divisions, the AL West and the AL East, while the Mariners had been labeled World Series favorites back in April and the Rays were expected to at least be in the postseason mix. It makes sense that with big expectations that were not met, big moves followed.

1st significant trade of offseason

Logan Morrison. Jason O. Watson/Getty Images.

The move the two teams made was a definitely big one, at least in terms of number of players involved. It was a six-player trade that sent first baseman Logan Morrison, utility-man Brad Miller and right-handed reliever Danny Farquhar to Tampa and brought right-hander Nathan Karns, left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser and minor-league outfielder Boog Powell to Seattle.

The Mariners appear to have gotten the better end of the deal, trading some of their more experienced players for youth, while also adding to their pitching staff. A pitching staff, by the way, that allowed 726 runs to the 656 scored by their offense in 2015. Clearly, pitching was a huge part of the Mariners problems last season. They appear to be preparing for the long-term future while the Rays appear to be trading away their future for a trio of older players who had played on a team that went 76-86. Maybe that’s exactly how it will end up once 2016 gets underway, maybe not. But it certainly seems like the Mariners won the trade.

Nathan Karns, a rookie with just five major league games under his belt going into 2015, made 26 starts for the Rays, going 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA on a team that didn’t finish much better off than the Mariners. The Rays finished with a record of 80-82. With just 12 decisions on the season, it seems safe to assume he did not receive a lot of run support. In fact, at just 3.5 runs per game of support per baseball-reference, Karns ranked fifth-lowest in baseball.

Karns still had a lower ERA than anyone on the Mariners’ pitching staff except for “King” Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, and Iwakuma was injured for a good portion of the season. Acquiring Karns, 27, from the Rays makes a lot of sense for Seattle, who has a much more potent offense but struggled with their pitching in 2015.

The same case can be made for the left-handed reliever Riefenhauser, who is just 25 years old, started out the 2015 season in the minor leagues and made 17 appearances for the Rays by the end of the season. Riefenhauser didn’t have very much success in the big leagues, pitching to a 5.52 ERA. His numbers in 29 games at Triple-A Durham were much better. He posted a 2.86 ERA in Durham, meaning his small sample of games in the big leagues is, hopefully, not signs of things to come and that he should improve. Plus, it is always good to grab another lefty for your bullpen.

Boog Powell spent 2015 between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. He’s a left-handed bat, so losing lefties in both Morrison and Miller won’t hurt the Seattle lineup. He hit .295 in a total of 117 games between Double-A and Triple-A. Powell can take a spot in the outfield for Miller if needed, and he could be a boost to the Mariners on-base percentage, which was .311 as a team in 2015 – ninth-worst in baseball. To go along with his .295 batting average, Powell had a solid .385 on-base percentage.

significant trade

Danny Farquhar. Getty Images.

The Mariners got three younger players who, while they have less big league experience, have overall better statistics and potential than the three they gave up. It’s hard to see how the Rays truly benefited from this trade.

Morrison, 27, hit just .225/.302/.383. Miller, 25, wasn’t much better than Morrison at the plate, hitting .258/.329/.402. While Farquhar, 28, has had better seasons in the past, he did not help the Mariners’ bullpen in 2015. He posted a 5.12 ERA. An argument can be made for Farquhar’s experience as well as his 2.66 ERA in 2014. He could absolutely bounce back in 2016.

It will be impossible to know who really won this trade until Powell and Riefenhauser gain more experience in the majors, but Karns proved himself to be a good middle-of-the-rotation starter in 2015 who is also under the age of 30 – something the Mariners sorely needed.

Perhaps Morrison and Miller will prove their 2015 stats wrong and Farquhar will bounce back to his 2014 form, but until those things happen, it appears that the Mariners made out like bandits in this first big trade of the offseason.

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  • Wine Correspondent

    Everybody in the trade is young. Be serious. The Rays needed a SS and a hitter with pop that can play 1B OF and DH…mission accomplished. The Mariners got what they needed…a pitcher. Boog was supplement to the Robertson trade…on paper he is trade bait. But he could be awesome.

    • Jen Rainwater

      I agree that Boog was the throw-in on the Robertson deal – I’ve seen them both play in the minors. Boog could be good. Not a lot of power but he gets on base. Technically yes, most of the is young but the Mariners players were older, even if not by much together they had much more MLB experience. I guess you can say “mission accomplished” if you like but if you look at what Morrison hit last year – he sucked. Miller on the other hand was better but not anything fantastic. The Mariners definitely got what they needed, no doubt about that. Pitching was their HUGE problem last season. I just feel like the Mariners got a better deal – however, we won’t really know until the season is underway. If Farquhar bounces back and Karns can’t repeat his rookie season or Morrison suddenly learns how to hit the ball things could turn out quite differently. I really like the addition of Karns though for the M’s – I think that was a good move. He’s perfect for their third starter … anyways, thanks for commenting!!! 🙂

    • Yes, everyone in the trade is young, however, the Mariners players have more MLB experience, so technically that’s more what I meant when I said young/old.

      Boog was the “throw-in” type guy in the Robertson deal – he doesn’t have power but he gets on base a lot.

      I agree that the Mariners DEFINITELY got what they needed. Assuming Karns’ rookie year was no fluke then he’ll be a good middle of the rotation starter – after King Felix and Iwakuma. If I’m them, I’m hoping that Karns will learn from the other two – without too much knowledge of his arsenal I think that he has potential to one day become an a good number 2 starter but you never know. Sometimes the rookies of the year (namely the ones from the A’s recently – except for Huston Street) just disappear – anyone remember Bobby Crosby? Even Andrew Bailey you’d have to be paying close attention to know where he was playing in 2015.

      The Rays though don’t get anything really in Logan Morrison and Brad Miller is very slightly above average in most categories. Just don’t see them going anywhere but maybe under the right coaches they will thrive! Farquhar could easily bounce back to his 2014 form but it just seems to me that the Rays got handed more “ifs” than they Mariners … but we won’t know for sure until the season starts!

      Thanks for commenting ! I appreciate it!

  • Tom U

    Boog Powell will be a difference-maker. I saw a lot of him when he was in the Midwest League, and he definitely was a force. People over-value power. Powell does need to work on driving the gaps more and his outfield defense, but he has a good arm.

    • That’s good to know. That’s the Mariners getting yet another good player then. I can’t believe they had almost as crappy a year as the A’s last year …. see Mariners still leading in this trade IMO! Thank you for commenting!