Mariners Trade-a-Day: Deadline Day? More Like Thanks-Givens
By Ty Gonzalez
I apologize for the title, but I couldn’t help myself. Leave me alone.
If the season ended today, the 29-74 Baltimore Orioles would be slated for the first pick in next year’s MLB Draft. So far they’ve traded away two superstars – Zach Britton and Manny Machado – and they’re nowhere close to being done.
Not too long ago, the Orioles’ bullpen was consider one of the best in baseball, headlined by Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, and Mychal Givens. This year has been a different story.
Britton struggled in his return from an achilles injury but still earned the O’s a nice package from the Yankees. Brach and O’Day, on the other hand, haven’t performed to their reputation as dominant setup men, and the latter is now out for the season with a hamstring injury.
That leaves Givens, who’s had his fair share of issues but hasn’t been a total disappointment. In fact, Givens has been one of the very few bright spots on this awful Orioles team.
As of July 26, Givens has already tied his career-high 1.2 fWAR. That’s pretty good for a reliever with just one save opportunity on a really bad team. He’s reached that mark in his last two seasons as well.
In 2017, Givens was plagued by the home run ball, allowing 10 dingers in his 78.2 innings of work. Though his groundball percentage sits at just 37.0%, his HR/9 has dropped from last year’s 1.14 to 0.36.
The home run struggles last season could be attributed to the departure from his slider, a pitch he used roughly 30% of the time in his first two seasons. This season, he’s gone to the slider 12.8% of the time. Being a fastball-first pitcher is a dangerous game, but it appears he’s found better command of it in 2018.
To the casual fan, Givens’ 4.62 ERA isn’t all that attractive. But a 2.72 FIP may tell a different story. Consider this: Givens pitches for a team that plays Trey Mancini (-7.8 UZR) and Danny Valencia (-0.4 UZR) in the outfield on a consistent basis.
Givens turned 28-years-old in May and is in the final pre-arbitration year of his contract. He won’t come cheap.
White is perhaps an overpay, but once you get past him, Kyle Lewis, and Julio Rodriguez, there just isn’t a clear match in a Givens deal. With Ryon Healy controlled until 2023 and Robinson Cano seemingly shifting to first base for the rest of his career, White may not have a future in Seattle.
Still, you’d like to see White at least packaged in a bigger deal if you’re going to trade him. But for the sake of the article, he goes to Baltimore for Givens.
It’s not a bad deal by any means. Givens is, as I’ve mentioned, 28 and has three more years of club controlled. For the cost of Evan White, you’ve acquired the bridge to Edwin Diaz for years to come.
Because Scott Servais loves his bullpen roles so much, for now Givens would likely be a mainstay in the sixth or seventh innings of most ballgames. That gives you more flexibility with Juan Nicasio, James Pazos, Nick Vincent, and whomever else you may acquire at the trade or waiver deadlines.
White should be a very attractive prospect to the Orioles, who currently don’t have an obvious heir to first base in their system. With Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis both past their prime, first base is going to be a big hole for their organization very soon.
It’s a one-for-one that truly helps two teams that are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. While losing White hurts the Mariners’ improved farm system, Givens is a pretty safe bet to give the Mariners immediate impact within a bullpen that needs it.
Sign me up.