You all must remember the exciting blockbuster trade that occurred almost exactly 10 months ago. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto broke the “rebuild” ice by trading shipping Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. So far he hasn’t regretted that decision, ha!
But what a chunk of you might have forgotten was that Justin Dunn wasn’t the only pitcher to make his way from the Mets the Mariners in return for those two.
Gerson Bautista is the lesser-known of the two to arrive in Seattle last winter. While Dunn is, of course, going down the route of starting pitcher, Gerson shouldn’t. Well, hold on a sec. Gerson began as a starter during his Minor League bout. In 2014, he dominated the Dominican Summer League with a 1.03 ERA and one run allowed or less in 11 of his 12 outings.
The very next year, he flashed a microscopic batting average against of .196 during his 12 games with the GCL Red Sox. It wasn’t until two seasons later that Gerson pitched in a relief-type role. After being part of a trade package for Addison Reed, he nabbed five saves with the Florida State League and per his MLB.com bio, he was “clocked throwing over 100 mph”.
So what’s the point of all this? It’s that Scott should at least consider Gerson as our 2020 team closer. Ignore his 11.00 ERA through eight games this season. He’s just getting started for crying out loud. The reason Scott should try Gerson out as closer is the rebuild itself.
The two likeliest candidates were traded to the nation’s capital this summer in Strickland and Elias. Yet for some reason, Dipoto picked Strickland up before the first year of the rebuild. A rebuilding team doesn’t need veteran closers. It’s a waste of the veteran’s time and of your team’s salary.
If a rebuild works like an audition, then that’s exactly what this would be for Gerson. A chance for Mariners fans to see the young reliever with an average 2019 four-seamer of 97.6 mph step out from behind the T-Mobile Park curtain and get his chance to wow hitters. If you look at the current Mariner roster, there aren’t many combined saves among the relievers on there.
And none of the other relievers were part of a trade package for two former All-Stars. The Mariners have nothing (or less) to lose than other MLB teams in 2020. So for year two of the rebuild, don’t shy away from new opportunities. You can’t waste high-90’s heat and this team still needs to find a new Edwin Diaz.
And speaking of Diaz, how were Mariners fans introduced to him in 2016? Just like Bautista, as a call-up who was simply making his debut. The only difference is that Diaz was homegrown and Gerson isn’t. Yet with our track record of homegrown Mariners, Gerson is likely to be more of a success than past relievers.
To cap it off, this experiment of Gerson as closer would be a statement to the Mets. It would be saying, “Hey, you made Diaz your immediate closer? Time to make Gerson ours.” And if Gerson works out while Diaz continues to give Mets fans gray hairs, for once an opposing GM may be sitting in his office, saying “Can’t believe I let that player get away.” Let’s give Gerson a try. What do we have to lose in terms of 2020’s expectations?