Seattle Mariners 2019 Position Preview: Relief Pitchers
By Ty Gonzalez
As the Mariners wrap up their busiest offseason to date, no position group has changed more over the last three months than their bullpen. Six of the team’s Opening Day relievers now play elsewhere and there are a lot of new names to learn.
Edwin Díaz is gone. So are Álex Colomé, Nick Vincent, James Pazos, Juan Nicasio, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Zach Duke, Casey Lawrence, and Erasmo Ramírez. It’s an extensive list of names that range from All-Stars, to serviceable depth, and the bottom of the barrel. Some of these departures will certainly hurt the chances of the Mariners’ bullpen to succeed in 2019, while others won’t shift the needle one way or another.
But the Mariners are ultimately rebuilding; therefore, losing any and all relievers simply does not matter, even in the case of Díaz. Relievers are rarely nothing more than a crapshoot, and are more often than not interchangeable. Having a great bullpen sounds nice on paper, but it’s the final piece to the puzzle of a contending team – not the driving force of a rebuild.
Four of the aforementioned relievers helped bring back what the Mariners believe to be key pieces in the progress of their retooling. Díaz led the charge to acquire Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, while Pazos and Nicasio acted as the final touches on the J.P. Crawford deal, and Omar Narváez came in exchange for Colomé.
In recent years, baseball fans have witnessed the trade market greatly inflate for bullpen pieces. Majority of the time, the suitor is a team on the brink of championship contention looking to add that final piece for a deep playoff push. This is especially important for Seattle, because of the opportunity out there for them to flip several of their relievers based on the results of their upcoming season.
While many sports fans gloss over the effect trades have on the mental state of players and their families, and is generally just an icky thing to wish on someone, it’s a key part of the business that is Major League Baseball, and is typically the most fruitful avenue to take in rebuilding an organization.
As Mariners fans entering the 2019 season, the hope will be for the success of all M’s relievers, but not in terms of wins and losses. Some of it will be for the development of the organization’s younger arms, while most of it will be for the building of trade value to continue adding solid pieces to an ever-evolving farm system.
For today’s piece, we’ll be looking at quite a few of these names that inhibit the 40-man roster, as well as those that may make their way through the system and wind up taking the mound at T-Mobile Park at some point next season.