Over the past week, the Seattle Mariners and their bullpen have been night and day better the past week. One of the biggest reasons why the bullpen has settled is thanks to the emergence of Austin Adams.
When Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto acquired Adams for Nick Wells, most of us just assumed it was another body to throw on the heap. Sure, Adams had insane strikeout numbers, but also had insanely high walk rates.
He was worth the gamble in this, a rebuilding year, and maybe he could turn himself into something halfway decent. You know, like one of the premier relievers in all the American League. Since joining the Mariners, Adams has posted a 2.38 ERA while striking out 40 batters in 22.2 innings on his way to a 0.926 WHIP.
Those numbers get even better over the past month. Since June 7th, Adams has struck out 25 batters in 12.1 innings while walking just 4 and not allowing an earned run. Opponents are hitting .077 in that stretch.
Adams has had a big week, scoring impressive high leverage hold. With 5-years of club control, Adams is a valuable piece to any club, even a rebuilding one like the Mariners. Sure, Adams will regress back to the mean, but the 97 MPH fastball and 70-grade slider will play all day.
The Mariners could look to hold onto Adams, but in a league desperate for high leverage relievers, keeping one around during a rebuild doesn’t make a lot of sense. One team that is in dire need of bullpen help is the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves bullpen ranks 21st in fWAR and has a pedestrian 4.53 FIP. The team currently holds a 4.5 game lead in the NL East but recently lost former Mariner Anthony Swarzak to the IL, leaving them with Luke Jackson and Sean Newcomb as solid contributors.
This won’t be enough for a young Braves team who has a deep system and can splurge on a reliever or two this July. With his current hot streak, Adams is surging up boards of deadline targets and the fit is natural as can be for Adams.
But what does Adams net the Mariners? Here is our proposal:
So this deal is pretty simple. The Mariners part with 5-years of a potential high-leverage reliever and walk away with 6-years of a 21-year-old, former Top 100 pitching prospect, Kolby Allard. A 2015 first-round pick, Allard has actually had a small cup of coffee in the big leagues but is currently stuck in AAA behind a loaded Braves rotation. This season, Allard has posted a 3.64 ERA in 90 innings, but the rest of the numbers look a bit pedestrian.
As a prospect, Allard is closer to Marco Gonzales than Justus Sheffield. He isn’t going to miss a ton of bats, but throws a lot of strikes and has above-average command. The fastball sits in the low 90’s.
The curveball and changeup are both above-average, but Allard lacks the true plus pitch to generate swings and misses. At 21, Allard is still quite young and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that there is till growth to be found in his game.
Unlikely to ever throw 95 on a consistent basis, Allard will need to either improve his command or add another quality pitch to reach his ceiling as a #3 starter. But we have witnessed the Mariners help a similar pitcher, Gonzales, reach his highest potential, so there is some hope they can do the same here.
Allard won’t blow anybody away, but he is a good prospect and one the Braves may part with for a reliever with just one month of dominance under his belt. Whether or not the Mariners hold onto Adams is a different question. They could hold him and his value may go up, but that is always a risk.
In the end, Allard for Adams is a fair deal and one that could make sense for both teams. In the next 4 weeks, we will get to see exactly how the Mariners and the rest of baseball value the insane levels Austin Adams has reach.