The Seattle Mariners biggest weakness on the 2019 big league roster is out in the bullpen. With a revolving door, thanks to injuries and ineffectiveness, very few arms stand out as potential keepers.
Of course, this is to be expected for a rebuilding team. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has a knack for finding bullpen talent, so trying to turn Seattle’s pen from bad to good isn’t high on his priority list right now. But if the right arm comes available, it could make sense to try and fill in some weak spots now.
The Mariners have some good young arms in the minor leagues and the odds that they’ll have a talented bullpen when they are ready to compete is pretty good. But while Dipoto will probably shop Roenis Elias hard, guys like Austin Adams, Connor Sadzeck, and Brandon Brennan have all flashed for extended periods of time, so they have some big league arms to build around.
In the minors, they have arms like Wyatt Mills, Gerson Bautista, Art Warren, Joey Gerber, and Sam Delaplane to name a few. The bullpen will also land reinforcements when veterans Sam Tuivailala and Hunter Strickland finally make it back. All of those arms are controllable and bring at least one above-average attribute to the table. But if the price is right, you have to be interested.
One team with a few interesting bullpen pieces is the Miami Marlins. Miami is in the midst of their rebuild and doesn’t have any illusions of competing over the next 3 years. 2 names, in particular, stand out: Nick Anderson and Austin Brice.
Brice is a 27-year-old who had little success in his first 70 games, posting a 5.84 ERA with a mediocre 7.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. In 2019, Brice has been a lot better, posting a 1.88 ERA (but a 3.72 FIP) striking out 38 hitters in 38.1 innings with a 46.2% groundball rate.
Brice has 2 above-average offerings, including a 93-94 MPH sinker and a sharp, biting curveball. The acquiring team will need to do their homework on Brice to determine if this is legitimate, but he won’t be until 2023 but doesn’t have any options remaining.
Nick Anderson’s wart is his age. At 29-years-old, to call Anderson a late bloomer is fair. But so far in 2019, Anderson has posted a 13.85 K/9 with 3.29 BB/9. Anderson’s ERA doesn’t tell the whole story. His 4.46 ERA doesn’t look great, but his 2.99 FIP is great.
As a 29-year-old rookie, Anderson actually has 3 options left and won’t be a free agent until after 2024. While he only has 38.1 innings under his belt, he has been great in them. Anderson will cost the most out of the two.
So both of these arms make sense for Dipoto as he builds his bullpen for 2020 and beyond. But what would they cost? Here is our proposal:
So for a pair of bullpen arms, the Mariners part with 2016 second-round pick Joe Rizzo and talented lottery ticket Juan Querecuto. After struggling in his first 2.5 years of pro ball, Rizzo has really turned it around in 2019 and is showing why he was a second round pick despite his size and lack of defensive prowess.
In the California Leauge, Rizzo is hitting .294/.358/.440 with 9 home runs. He has moved around the infield and second base might be his best fit, although he is getting a serious look at first base.
Juan Querecuto is a raw talent that needs to be refined. He should have no issue sticking at shortstop and should be well above-average up the middle. The questions surrounding Querecuto are with his bat. But he has fast hands and at 6’2″, 170 lbs, he still has room to grow.
Querecuto may remind some Marlins fans of Adeiny Hechavarria when all is said and done. Losing two talented players won’t be easy for the Mariners to swallow. But with Rizzo’s questionable defensive home and Querecuto being at least 3 years away, it makes sense to deal both with their 2021 goal.
If either Anderson or Brice turnout well for Seattle, the Mariners could have a couple of foundational pieces from which to build their bullpen around.