Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners continued their busy day on Wednesday, pulling off their second trade in an hour after sending lefthanders Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows to the Braves for Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons.
With the deal, the Mariners have completed 11 trades since Nov. 1. This was also their second trade of the offseason with the Rays and their fifth since July 31, 2014.
Drew Smyly, lhp
Smyly has been the prototypical solid, back-end lefthander since becoming a starter full-time in 2014, but was limited to just 12 starts in 2015 by a torn labrum and rang up a career-worst 4.88 ERA over 30 starts in 2016. He has consistently thrown strikes and limited walks throughout his career, although the home run ball has long been his bugaboo, with his home run rate per nine innings getting worse each season, including 32 long balls given up last year. He will join fellow recent acquisition Yovani Gallardo in backing up Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton in the rotation, with the Mariners hoping he can stay healthy and return to the form that helped him record a sub-4.00 ERA each of his first four seasons.
Mallex Smith, of
Smith, whose Mariners tenure lasted less than an hour, was acquired from the Braves earlier in the day. At one point he appeared to be the Braves center fielder of the future when they acquired him from the Padres in the Justin Upton deal after the 2014 season, but the athletically gifted outfielder struggled with injuries and his offense in his major league debut season and saw himself get squeezed out with Ender Inciarte signing a five-year contract extension to man center field. Smith is one of the fastest runners in the game, with 88 stolen bases in the minors in 2014, 56 in 2015 and 16 in his 72-game ML debut in 2016. He also uses that speed to play elite defense in center, to the point he has been projected as a potential future Gold Glove winner. His offense is his biggest question mark, with his lack of power making his success fully dependent on his ability to make frequent contact and work counts. He was successful doing that in the minors (career. 296 AVG, .382 OBP) but looked overmatched in his first taste of the majors. Still just 23 and with exciting ability on the basepaths and in the field, Smith has the potential to grow into an everyday center fielder and can serve as a valuable fourth outfielder even if his bat never comes along.
|Carlos Vargas, ss
Vargas was the No. 19 prospect in the 2015 international class and the Mariners signed him for $1.625 million. Unlike many other international teenage shortstops, Vargas’ most intriguing tool is his power, with most grading his power potential as plus and some plus-plus. He showed big-time power in various international showcases and games before signing, and delivered 11 doubles and seven homers in 62 games in his pro debut in 2016. He was also named the MVP of the Dominican Summer League all-star game after hitting a two-run triple. Vargas controls the strike zone exceptionally well, with 32 walks against 35 strikeouts in his debut. Many scouts outside the organization think Vargas will eventually slide over to third base as he fills out, but the Mariners were pleasantly impressed with his play at shortstop, including numerous highlight-reel plays. He has a plus arm that will play anywhere. Vargas still has to learn to tap into his power more consistently and mature physically, but his potential as a legitimate power-hitting shortstop is intriguing and gave him as much upside as almost anyone in the Mariners system.
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|Ryan Yarbrough, lhp
The Mariners drafted Yarbrough as a senior sign in the fourth round out of Old Dominion in 2014 and were rewarded with a quick ascension. The 6-foot-5 southpaw tied for the Double-A Southern League lead in wins (12) and was second in ERA (2.95) and WHIP (1.11) in 2016 and was considered a strong candidate to see big league innings in 2017. Using his long limbs, Yarbrough pitches downhill with a 90-93 mph fastball that he can manipulate, while his plus changeup gives him another ground ball offering the induces lots of off-balance swings and weak contacts. Overall he has induced 51 percent more groundouts than airouts in his career. Yarbrough profiles as a ground-ball oriented long man or spot starter pending the development of his slider, which has average to above-average potential. If it continues coming along, Yarbrough could end up as a reliable back-end lefthander in a big league rotation sooner rather than later. Even if it doesn’t, he has a future as a lefthanded sinker/changeup reliever who can get the needed ground ball in double-play situations. He will likely start 2017 at Triple-A Durham.