Posted on November 16, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The winter trade season is officially underway. Late Wednesday night, the Seattle Mariners acquired infielder Ryon Healy from the Oakland Athletics for relief pitcher Emilio Pagan and minor league shortstop Alexander Campos.
The 25-year old Healy has emerged in Oakland over the past couple of seasons as a young hitter with good pop who’s capable of playing either corner infield position. In 2017, he hit .271 with 25 home runs, helping him post an OPS of .754. He started over 30 games at both third base and first base. However, he took most of his at-bats in 2017 as Oakland’s DH.
“It’s very, very exciting especially with the team that’s built there and had a lot of success already in Seattle,” Healy said of the trade. “I’m excited for the opportunity to step in and hopefully help this team get to the next level.”
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The Mariners intend to make Healy their primary first baseman in 2018. First base was a position of instability for the Mariners last season. Danny Valencia got most of the playing time there the first half of the season. Later, Seattle traded for Yonder Alonso, who finished the season as the everyday first baseman. Both players are now free agents, leaving the Mariners without an established first baseman.
First base prospect Dan Vogelbach appeared to be the first baseman of the future at one point. But he struggled in limited big league action last season. He also isn’t a strong defensive player and may fit better as a DH. The Mariners believe that Healy can be both the short-term and long-term solution at first base.
“For us to solve or put a first baseman in place after going year-to-year for such a long time here with first base as a question mark we’re hopeful Ryon will step in and solve a good deal of that problem,” Dipoto said. “He’s a good offensive player and gives us that right-handed power element.”
With Healy still in his pre-arbitration years, the Mariners aren’t adding much in terms of salary by trading for him. That will help them to address other needs they have this offseason in free agency.
“We have a couple other needs we’d like to address, not the least of which is adding an element to the outfield, and we’d also like to add to our pitching staff where possible,” said Dipoto. “The flexibility he provides to our roster gives us some ability to do some more creative things in other areas.”
From Oakland’s perspective, Healy was likely to be a player without a position in 2018. Matt Olson emerged late in the season as Oakland’s first baseman of the future while Matt Chapman did the same at third base. The A’s would also like to move Khris Davis into the DH role full time, leaving no spot for Healy.
In terms of return, the A’s get a pitcher in Pagan who posted a 3.22 ERA in 24 appearances in 2017, his first season in the big leagues. He gives Oakland a young bullpen arm with decent upside. Campos, meanwhile, is a 17-year old shortstop who’s noted for his athleticism and played in the Dominican Summer League in 2017. MLB.com ranks him as the no. 29 prospect in Oakland’s farm system.
Both teams stand to benefit from this trade, although the Mariners should benefit immediately. Healy should be the team’s everyday first baseman, providing steady production and power toward the bottom of the lineup. Meanwhile, Oakland’s value in the trade is tied up in the upside of Campos. But in Pagan, they at least get a young pitcher who can be useful coming out of the bullpen for many years to come.