Mariners Get Pair Of Big Arms From Nationals For Roenis Elias

Image credit: Roenis Elias (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

It wouldn’t be trade deadline day without the Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto getting involved. DiPoto sent lefthander Roenis Elias to Washington, D.C. where he’ll join plenty of other new faces in the revamped Nationals bullpen. In return, Seattle received a pair of pop-up prospects with big arms, both of whom are Rule 5 eligible after the season.


Elvis Alvarado, RHP

Age: 20

Alvarado was signed as a strong-armed outfielder, but after he hit .139 in the Dominican Summer League he and the Nationals both decided that he would be better off moving to the mound. Alvarado is a skinny 6-foot-6 and as an inexperienced, long-levered pitcher he doesn’t yet have any modicum of control or command. His delivery is raw as well as he’s barely using his lower half. But even with all those issues, he can unleash 95-96 mph fastballs and has touched 100.

Everything other than raw arm strength needs to improve–his breaking ball rarely flashes potential yet, but if everything breaks right, he has the arm to be a useful power pitcher. Alvarado signed in 2015, so he will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason, although considering he’s only pitched in the Gulf Coast League and has walked more batters than innings pitched this year, he probably is safe to be left unprotected for at least one more year. Long-term, it does mean he’ll need to move faster in the future.

Taylor Guilbeau, LHP

Age: 26

After four years as a reliable, but unspectacular, starter/reliever at Alabama, the Nationals made Guilbeau a 10th-round senior sign in 2015. Until not too long ago, he was the kind of innings-eating, do-anything pitcher every minor league staff needs. But Guilbeau’s velocity has taken off, as he went from being a high-80s/low-90s durable pitcher to a 93-95 mph fireballer who can touch 97. He gets plenty of sink on his fastball and tries to get hitters to beat the ball into the ground, but he can also elevate for strike three at times.

His changeup is below-average. Unless he finds a better secondary offering, he projects as more a low-leverage reliever than a late-inning arm, but he has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues before too long, which is something no one would have said two years ago. Guilbeau will need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason or he will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft.


Roenis Elias, LHP

Elias becomes yet another arm in the Nationals complete makeover of their bullpen. A starter early in his Mariners career, he has proven able to handle a move to the bullpen. He’s more of a one-inning reliever than a lefty matchup specialist–he’s been much more effective retiring right-handed hitters this year (.579 OPS vs. .990 OPS against left-handers) and for his career he’s shown little platoon difference.

He’s arbitration eligible at the end of the season, and is currently on a modest $910,000 deal.

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