Mariners Trade-a-Day: Erlin in the Mornin’

DENVER, CO - APRIL 25: Pitcher Robbie Erlin #41 of the San Diego Padres throws in the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 25: Pitcher Robbie Erlin #41 of the San Diego Padres throws in the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Club control is fun, isn’t it? Not only does it give a player added value on the trade market, but it offers a team security.

Jerry Dipoto loves club control, and why wouldn’t he? For a team with a very confusing window, the Mariners can find a sense of certainty in players with club control.

Rentals can be fun for a team in World Series contention – which I still believe the Mariners are – but seldom do the ends justify the means. With very little prospect capital to begin with, trading for a costly rental would surely be a death knell for the Mariners shortly thereafter.

If you’re going to gut your resources, you may as well make the most out of it; even if it means acquiring a player of less caliber than their rental counterpart.

The Yankees just acquired Zach Britton, a pitcher with excellent numbers in the past but is struggling in his return from injury. Britton is an unrestricted free agent after the 2018 season. The Orioles still received the Yankees’ ninth-best prospect, amongst two other players.

In reality, the Yankees’ ninth-best prospect, Dillon Tate, would likely be the Mariners’ second-best prospect if he were in the latter’s system.

These prices are just too high for the Mariners to pay. They have to look down other avenues.

The Mariners need a new center fielder and at least one solid bullpen arm, preferably a lefty. There aren’t a lot of options in either area that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

So where should they go? San Diego.

TRADE PROPOSAL

Brad Hand received most of the spotlight in San Diego and rightfully so. That’s why the Padres have found themselves with Francisco Mejia.

The success of Hand, Adam Cimber, and Craig Stammen has overshadowed a key cog in that Padres bullpen, however. That would be their other left-handed specialist, Robbie Erlin.

Erlin has slipped through the cracks despite posting in the top-20 in several relieving categories as of July 25, including xFIP (2.86). In fact, outside of K/9, Erlin’s numbers edge out Hand’s in 2018.

The problem is, Erlin doesn’t have fantastic stuff. His velocity is below-average for a reliever, with a fastball that sits anywhere from 87-92 miles-per-hour.

Somehow he’s found a way to make his pitches work, and that’s mainly due in part to a fantastic curveball that’s only been hit seven times in the 147 occasions he’s unleashed it.

Over the last month, Erlin has been at his best with a 1.69 ERA (3.07 xFIP) and LOB% of 93.0. That’ll help boost trade interest in a market devoid of left-handed situational relievers.

Erlin would not only extend the Mariners’ bullpen but give Scott Servais more flexibility with his use of James Pazos late in games. Perhaps this could finally be the catalyst to pushing Pazos down into more of an eighth-inning role. We all know how much Servais loves his bullpen roles.

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Erlin also has the ability to spot-start if need be, starting two games this season and 24 in AAA last season.

The other player making his way to Seattle in this proposal is Travis Jankowski. You may be familiar with him from the 17,000,000 games the Mariners and Padres play every Spring Training.

Jankowski has been stuck behind a loaded Padres outfield but has made the most of his opportunities. Through 68 games, Jankowski is slashing .254/.337/.330. So yeah, not a whole lot of power.

The thing that stands out the most about Jankowski is his 10.7% walk rate. As of now, that would rank second amongst the Mariners’ current 25-man roster, right behind Mitch Haniger (11.8%).

Jankowski has struggled at the plate over the last month, backed by a very mediocre wRC+ of 65. Still, that’s three points higher than Guillermo Heredia, so… improvement?

Where Jankowski really makes his mark is with his glove. In 498 innings in the outfield this year, Jankowski has a UZR of +3.9. In 598.2 innings, Heredia has a -2.4 UZR. While Heredia appears better than that number suggests through the eye test, Jankowski is, as of now, statistically a better outfielder.

A potential platoon of Heredia and Jankowski in September wouldn’t be such a bad idea. If one of them stand out, you should feel pretty confident going into a potential playoff matchup. If not, at least you have options in terms of lineup and roster construction.

While Jankowski and Erlin both perform at premium positions, their minimal roles this season will hinder their value. But Erlin has two years left of club control, and Jankowski is in his final pre-arbitration year. That will raise the price a bit.

I have the Mariners packaging a pair of prospects that have seemingly come out of nowhere. One being Bryson Brigman, whose bat has blown all expectations out of the water in 2018. The other being Art Warren, who jumped on Mariners’ fans’ radars after a spectacular Arizona Fall League last year.

The Mariners can afford to lose both, with Warren coming from the Mariners’ sole position of depth in their farm, and Brigman not having a clear path to the Majors with the M’s middle infield locked up for the foreseeable future.

Brigman would return to the city he played college ball in and have a chance to start opposite of Fernando Tatis Jr. in 2020; at least until Esteury Ruiz arrives.

Warren could find himself in the Padres’ bullpen as soon as September of this year.

It’s definitely not a game-changer of a deal, but it gives the Mariners some help in their postseason run and in their future endeavors. God bless club control.