The Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays did not waste much time in making an offseason move this year.
According to MLB.com, Mariners executive vice president and general manager of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto announced Thursday his team had made a six-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Seattle acquired pitcher Nathan Karns, pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser and minor league outfielder Boog Powell, while Tampa Bay landed first baseman Logan Morrison, reliever Danny Farquhar and infielder Brad Miller.
The Mariners hired Dipoto near the end of the regular season after they fired Jack Zduriencik in August, and the new front-office leader discussed the trade, per MLB.com:
As I said when I was hired, we need to get more flexible, more athletic and build pitching depth. This trade allows us to do all three. Powell brings speed, defense on on-base percentage to the table and could be ready to help us as soon as 2016, while Karns and Riefenhauser give us young, but experienced, pitching options.
Of the players Dipoto acquired, Karns jumps out because he started 26 games for the Rays last season and posted a 3.67 ERA with 145 strikeouts and a .239 batting average against in 147 innings. He led American League rookies in innings pitched and strikeouts and was third in ERA, although he will turn 28 in November and is older than most rookies.
"I feel like I just got done watching the World Series," Karns said about the timing of the deal, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times.
Expect Karns to slide into Seattle's starting rotation somewhere behind Felix Hernandez. The Mariners were a middling 17th in the league in starters' ERA last season and need more depth behind their ace. Karns provides just that.
Riefenhauser struggled last season with a 5.52 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the Rays, although he posted a solid 2.16 ERA in his last 11 outings and closed the campaign on a high note.
Powell (no relation to the former Baltimore Oriole and 1970 AL MVP) is a 22-year-old prospect who was named to the 2015 Southern League All-Star team because of his ability to get on base (.385 on-base percentage in two levels last year) and make things happen when he got there (18 steals and 66 runs scored in Double-A and Triple-A).
He may not be major league ready just yet, but look for him to advance through the Mariners' farm system, which Baseball America ranked 25th in the league before the 2015 campaign.
As for the Rays, Morrison is a proven major league player who drilled 17 home runs for the Mariners this season in a career-high 146 games. He has always been a power threat during his career, and he hit 23 home runs in 2011 with the then-Florida Marlins.
Miller also stands out for his versatility (he played games at shortstop, second base, third base and all three outfield spots this year), although he offered some pop as well with 22 doubles and 11 home runs. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports weighed in on Tampa Bay’s acquisition of Miller:
Ben Zobrist played the versatile utility role for the Rays when they were competing for World Series berths, and Miller could assume that spot for the team moving forward.
Farquhar does not generate as much excitement, considering that he went 1-8 with a 5.12 ERA this season. However, he was excellent in 2014, when he posted a 2.66 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 81 strikeouts in 71 innings. Perhaps he can rediscover that form on a new team.
It may seem to be early for a trade, but neither team reached the postseason last year. The front offices are trying to change things up in pursuit of a playoff spot.