Coming off a franchise-record 17-game losing streak that has essentially torpedoed the season, it was only a matter of time before the Seattle Mariners started trading from their position of strength: starting pitching.
It appears that the Mariners have finally made a move, as SI’s Jon Heyman reported that the Mariners had traded Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for outfielder Casper Wells and lefty Charlie Furbush.
I’ve felt bad for Fister this season, as the tall righty has pitched much better than his won-loss record would indicate. Fister has gone six or more innings in 18 of his 21 starts, ranking seventh in the AL in walk rate (1.97) and taking advantage of spacious Safeco Field to rank fourth in HR rate (0.43). He doesn’t strike out many hitters (just 89 Ks in 146 innings), so he needs a quality defense behind him in order to be an effective innings-eater.
Pauley has been Seattle’s most consistent reliever this season, but the converted starter is hardly a power arm coming out of the bullpen (5.63 K rate). Still, he has stranded runners at a very solid 81.5 percent rate thus far, which instantly puts him ahead of anybody in the Tigers’ bullpen.
Wells looks like the key to this trade for the Mariners. A righty hitter who has spent most of the year in rightfield, Wells has put up a .323/.451 line as a part-time player but has struggled to stay in the lineup on the veteran-laden Tigers.
He immediately becomes a middle-of-the-order bat for the Mariners, though it is likely that his numbers will take a slight dip while playing at Safeco. That said, he still has better hitting numbers this season than anybody in the Mariners’ lineup and should step in immediately in left.
Furbush is a hard-throwing lefty with control problems who should fit nicely into the Mariner bullpen.
This is a trade that can only help the Mariners in the future. Fister was a reliable but expendable back-end starter (which are not hard to develop at Safeco), and Wells is a serious upgrade to the Mariner lineup. Then again, the Mariners probably could have pulled somebody out of little league and had an upgrade to their lineup. But with that said, this looks like a win for Seattle.
UPDATE: Larry Stone is reporting that third base prospect Francisco Martinez could also be a part of this deal. I don't know much about Martinez, but he is a five-tool third baseman who rated fairly highly on Detroit's prospect list.