The Orioles and Mariners got together for a deal that fills a need for both clubs. The Orioles made no secret of trying to find a lefthanded-hitting corner outfielder, and they had been named in rumors involving Brett Gardner, Michael Saunders and others.
The Mariners, meanwhile, sought rotation help, especially after trading righthander Taijuan Walker to Arizona in the deal that netted shortstop Jean Segura.
So on Friday in the first major deal of 2017, the Orioles sent righthander Yovani Gallardo to Seattle for outfielder Seth Smith.
Executives for both clubs praised the deal.
“Seth Smith is a veteran leader, good on-base man and proven hitter. We look forward to his contributions to the 2017,” Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said in a news release.
“Gallardo gives us the veteran presence that we have been searching for,” said Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. “He has a track record of durability and success as a starting pitcher. After examining the free agent and trade market, Yovani is the best fit for our club as we move forward this offseason.”
Yovani Gallardo, rhp
Originally a second-round pick of the Brewers in 2004, Gallardo struggled through by far his worst big league season in 2016 after signing a two-year contract with Baltimore in February. He missed all of May and part of June because of tendinitis in the biceps of his right shoulder. When he was healthy, he posted a career-worst walk rate (4.7 walks per nine innings) and one of his worst strikeout rates (6.5 whiffs per nine innings). His fastball velocity has dipped from its peak of 92.7 mph to 90.3 this season and his ground-ball rate was its lowest since 2008.
The Mariners are banking on Gallardo’s move to the larger Safeco Field to negate some of his home-run issues. He’s signed through 2017 with a $13 million option for 2018 with a $2 million buyout.
Seth Smith, of
Smith was also originally a second-round pick in 2004 by Colorado, just four picks after Gallardo was chosen by the Brewers. The former Ole Miss star has built a career as a useful-if-well-traveled platoon player, having bounced from the Rockies to the Athletics to the Padres to the Mariners and now Baltimore. In fact, he’s been traded in four of the past five offseasons. That said, he was one of the Mariners’ most consistent hitters the past two seasons. He drove in a career-best 63 runs in 2016, again doing the majority of his damage against righthanders (.249/.342/.415) and getting just 33 plate appearances against southpaws. For his career, Smith owns an .827 OPS against righties (just .594 against lefties) and is likely to do even more damage at Camden Yards than he did in the expanse of Safeco. He has one year and $7 million remaining on his contract.