Busy day for Mariners: say hello to Gallardo and Dyson, say goodbye to Karns and Smith
General Manager Jerry Dipoto is at it again this off-season with some more trades. Friday, in two separate transactions, Dipoto acquired outfielder Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City for pitcher Nate Karns; he also sent outfielder Seth Smith to Baltimore for pitcher Yovani Gallardo. The whirlwind of trades adds spice to the off-season, but how important are these trades? Well, first let’s look at each player individually:
Dyson is a 32 year old journeyman who can swipe bases with the best of them. He tends to be a situational player and had 299 at bats in an as-needed role. With career a career best 14 doubles and .278 bating average he will never be mistaken as an amazing hitter. But, where he shines is on the base paths. He scored 46 runs while stealing 30 bases. With advanced stats, he has a 3.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR)—the best of his career. If used correctly he is a platoon threat and late game gem.
The former Texas Tech Red Raider was brought over to the Mariners from the Tampa Rays in a minor blockbuster trade that saw he and prize center fielder Boog Powell shipped off for Brad Miller, Danny Farquhar, and Logan Morrison.
Karns is 28 but in his time in Washington, Tampa, and Seattle, he hasn’t shown that he can complete full season. Time is running out on his career, but the talent is there. Unfortunately for Karns, he will start his career over yet again in a new city.
The former backup quarterback to Eli Manning at Ole Miss is finding himself on the 5th team of his MLB career. Sent to Baltimore, the 34 year old still struggles to find himself in a solid role. Used as a platoon left fielder, Smith was capable of showing himself as a solid contributor on offense, however, on defense he has been sub-standard. Smith’s 16 homers in part-time work was admirable, but with mediocre outfield play, he couldn’t be relied on as a full-time player.
The 30 year old Gallardo is an interesting pickup fo the Mariners. The 10 year vet made a name for himself in Milwaukee where he became a very solid middle of the rotation guy.
With 5 straight years of double digit victories and an All-Star nod, Gallordo has had a yeoman-like career. Last year, he was derailed by injury but he was incredibly effective in 2014 for the Texas Rangers with a 3.42 ERA and 13 wins.
At first glance this all seems to be a wash. The Mariners are trading a journeyman outfielder for another journeyman outfielder. The M’s also seem to be trading a pitcher in Karns who has never lived up to expectations, for a pitcher in Gallardo whose best days may be behind him. So why was this trade made?
Gallardo is on the last year of a 2 year 22 million dollar contract while Smith is also signed though 2017 on a 3 year 20 million contract. Yes, the money works out better for Baltimore, but hidden in that is a club option for the M’s in 2018. If miraculously Gallardo is amazing this next season, the M”s can lock him up for another year at a screaming deal. If not, the M’s can dump him as a free agent.
With Karns, Seattle has sent Kansas City a player not yet arbitration eligible pitcher (who tend to be in high demand) for an outfielder on the last year of his contract. KC may think they can get rid of a bench player for a #3 or #4 pitcher—which is worth it in today’s MLB. While Seattle, having found Karns replacement in Gallardo, can look to get faster on the basepaths. The Mariners had little to no threat stealing bases, ranking last in the American League in that stat. Also, by getting rid of Seth Smith and Nori Aoki they have upgraded their defense substantially.
Ultimately, we will have to wait a year to see what happens here. The deals seem to benefit everyone, but superficially at best. The GM who wins this trade will be rewarded by what the player does in 2017 on the diamond. These are not deal-breakers that will ruin Jerry Dipoto’s career, but it could be a stroke of brilliance if either succeeds.
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