In the midst of their annual media day, the Seattle Mariners couldn’t stop adding players to its roster. Today, GM Jerry Dipoto signed right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland to a 1-year deal.
The Mariners needed to add some upside bullpen depth, and they appear to have found it with Hunter Strickland. He spent the first 3-years of his career in San Francisco before he was non-tendered earlier this off-season.
The 30-year-old came off a disappointing season in 2018, posting a 3.97 ERA, a 4.99 xFIP, and a career low in K/9. Prior to 2018, Strickland was one of the better middle relievers in the game. From 2015-2017, Strickland posted a 2.75 ERA, a 3.25 FIP, 8.6 K/9, and a 148 ERA+ (100 is average), in 195 games.
When he is right, Strickland sits at 97 MPH with a decent changeup and average slider. Unfortunately for Strickland, the average velocity has dropped since 2015 and his performance has suffered.
Strickland averaged 95 MPH in his fastball, and he needs to operate under the assumption his velocity will not return. The Mariners either believe that Strickland’s velocity can return, or they can help him make a transition (For more information on Strickland, click here).
While Strickland did sign a 1-year, the Mariners will control his rights until after the 2021 season. Because he was non-tendered, he is still subject to arbitration and is scheduled to be eligible for 2020 and 2021.
Strickland will likely compete for the closers’ job during Spring Training. With Dipoto’s announcement today that Swarzak is behind schedule in his rehab, Strickland may be the clubhouse leader.
The exact terms of the deal have yet to be announced. Seattle will have to make a move on the 40-man roster in order to add Strickland to the roster. It is highly unlikely the Mariners are done adding to their MLB roster, though with the additions of Strickland and Cory Gearrin, the bullpen is finally taking shape.