Posted on July 20, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Seattle Mariners have spent much the season on the periphery of the playoff race. But there’s no doubt the club is going for it in 2017 after acquiring right-handed reliever David Phelps on Thursday. The Mariners acquired Phelps from the Miami Marlins for four prospects in hopes that he will help to shore up their bullpen down the stretch. In the trade, the Marlins acquired outfielder Brayan Hernandez and pitching prospects Brandon Miller, Pablo Lopez, and Lukas Schiraldi.
The Marlins have long been seen as a seller at the deadline, with Phelps always likely to be moved. Phelps has taken a small step backward this season after a breakout year pitching out of Miami’s bullpen in 2016. In 44 appearances, Phelps has a 3.45 ERA and is averaging better than a strikeout per inning. He’s also under contract through next season, making him more than a rental player.
“David was a target player for us headed into the Deadline period,” Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “The quality of his work, particularly over the past two years in the bullpen, in addition to his versatility — including his background as starter — made him very attractive to us. He fits our roster very well and is controllable through the 2018 season.”
Seattle’s bullpen has been middle of the road in the American League this season, so it’s definitely an area where they could use an upgrade. Closer Edwin Diaz has been close to un-hittable since the calendar flipped to July, solidifying his spot at the back end of the bullpen. The likes of Steve Cishek, Tony Zych, Nick Vincent, and Marc Rzepczynski have also been solid for much of the season. With Phelps being added to that group, the Mariners now boast impressive depth in their bullpen, even if they lack high-end relief pitching.
Meanwhile, the Marlins continue what looks to be a summer fire sale. The club previously traded shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. There have also been several other Marlins linked with trade discussions. Phelps may be the first of multiple Miami relief pitchers to be moved before the end of the month.
“As we approach the Trade Deadline, relievers often carry a lot of value,” explains Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill. “We had gotten several calls on David Phelps, and things started to pick up speed with Seattle that led to the deal as you see it. We got back four players that we really like that will head into our system and help to create more depth for us in the Minor League season.”
Hernandez was the top prize in the deal for the Marlins. He’s just 19, but he has the potential to grow into a five-tool player in the years to come. He was rated as the no. 6 prospect in Seattle’s farm system, according to MLB.com.
“He’s someone we saw on the international market a couple of years ago,” Hill said of Hernandez. “He was the top player coming out of Venezuela a couple of years ago. He’s someone who we’ve had a familiarity with. When we had the ability to access him, we were excited.”
The pitching trio of Miller, Lopez, and Schiraldi are all A-ball level pitchers who are at least a couple years away from the majors. Miller and Lopez were ranked no. 16 and no. 22, respectively, in Seattle’s farm system by MLB.com.
This is not a blockbuster trade by any means, but it should serve both sides well. The Mariners get a boost as they fight for a playoff spot in a crowded wild card race. Meanwhile, the Marlins get a slew of prospects as they move toward a rebuilding phase.