Mariners Trade-a-Day: Fixing the Bullpen in One Fell Swoop

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 24: Raisel Iglesias #26 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates at the completion of the ninth inning and defeating the Chicago Cubs 8-6 at Great American Ball Park on June 24, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 24: Raisel Iglesias #26 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates at the completion of the ninth inning and defeating the Chicago Cubs 8-6 at Great American Ball Park on June 24, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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After the Indians acquired Brad Hand and Adam Cimber on Thursday, I looked for a similarly structured deal for the Mariners. Here’s what I came up with.

I couldn’t find a pair of relievers of Hand and Cimber’s caliber for the Mariners, but I came close. In fact, it’ll cost a lot less too.

There’s no question that the Mariners’ bullpen is in need of an upgrade. We’ve been over this. In my mind, the Mariners need at least two new relievers by the end of July. Whether they come internally or from another organization doesn’t matter, and I prefer a mix of both.

I would like for the M’s to add a significant left-handed bullpen piece, but I can’t find anyone that truly fits other than Aaron Loup. Felipe Vazquez and Hand were names that clearly jump out, but both are too expensive, as we saw with the Hand deal.

For this deal, I didn’t find a lefty but I found two relievers who could have a big impact on this bullpen’s reconstruction. To be honest, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a lot of talk about either one of these guys lately.

TRADE PROPOSAL

Yeah, I know you’re confused. I said it would cost less than Hand and Cimber and then proposed trading two of the Mariners’ best positional prospects. Well, White and Brigman are nowhere close to the prospect Francisco Mejia is.

What I meant by expensive was Kyle Lewis-plus. While it’s realistic to expect the Reds to want Lewis for Iglesias alone, I think the Mariners can get away with White and Brigman and snag Hughes in the process.

Iglesias entered the league as a starter but has since pivoted to a closer role he’s been very successful in. Of course, the Mariners have a pretty good closer themselves and won’t require Iglesias’ services in such a role.

But Iglesias gives the Mariners a third hard-throwing reliever with the ability to close. Teams like the Yankees and Indians have gone with this model going into a playoff stretch recently, and the Mariners have the opportunity to follow suit.

Amir Garrett will likely be the Reds’ new closer in due time, giving the Reds an opportunity to trade Iglesias.

At 28-years-old, Iglesias is in the midst of his third full season in the MLB. Through 39 appearances, Iglesias has an xFIP of 3.46 with a solid K/9 of 9.86. He has 19 saves in 22 opportunities, and given his history as a starter, can go multiple innings if needed.

Iglesias has two years left on his deal after the 2018 season at $5 million each.

The 33-year-old Hughes is the “Cimber” of this deal, and he’s a pretty interesting pitcher. For years, he’s been a pretty solid reliever that no one knows. He really found himself last year with the Brewers, bringing up his strikeout numbers to 7.24 per nine and keeping the ball on the ground at an impressive 62.2%.

These numbers earned him a three-year deal with the Reds this year, and he’s done nothing but improves on them. His K/9 is still around seven and his ground ball rate is even better at 65.2%.

As of July 19, Hughes’ ERA is 1.44 (3.39 xFIP) which is eighth best amongst MLB relievers.

Hughes will have a more relaxed role than the one he has now with the Reds, becoming the Mariners’ fifth or sixth option in the bullpen.

In terms of the compensation, it may appear to be an underpay but White is a fringe top 100 prospect in the MLB and Brigman is quickly rising the ranks in the Mariners’ system. Both players are currently tearing it up in Modesto and it would hurt to lose both of them.

White’s bat has translated better than expected to pro ball, initially projecting as a glove-first prospect. While he’s a defensive mastermind at first base, his past of playing some outfield in high school could be of intrigue to the Reds who are pretty set at first with Joey Votto.

Brigman could find himself as Nick Senzel’s double-play partner in the early 2020s if he continues to perform the way he has this year. Scouts thought he’d have a nice enough glove to be a solid defensive replacement in the MLB, but his bat has woken up in 2018. In 88 games with Modesto so far, Brigman is slashing .301/.372/.381 to the tune of a 110 wRC+.

When players begin to add tools not expected of them, their stock rises fast and that’s exactly what Brigman is demonstrating this season. He’ll be a valuable piece in trade talks over the next couple weeks.

Next: 2 Trades That Saved the Mariners

Surely the Mariners will add to their bullpen in the next two weeks. A deal such as this, whether it’s this one specifically or not, will give the Mariners much needed depth and even more late-game options. Having that makes you a dangerous team in the playoffs and the Mariners should take full advantage of this opportunity.

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