2. Amir Garrett, LHP Cincinnati Reds
So this may be the most interesting name on the list because unlike other players we have talked about, the likeliest path for the Mariners to acquire Garrett probably involves a big name player going back the other way.
I’m not suggesting that you trade Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, or Logan Gilbert for him. Or really any top prospect, but perhaps we have found the MLB piece that could sway Jerry Dipoto to move Mitch Haniger?
We know the Reds are looking for controllable bats and we know the Mariners have a few to offer, including Haniger. Obviously, it is fair to assume that Dipoto wouldn’t trade Haniger for just a bullpen arm so the deal would need to be bigger, but that’s not what we are here to discuss.
Instead, let’s talk about the player and why he is deserving of a spot on this list. Amir Garrett just wrapped up his second full-season coming out of the Reds bullpen and there are certainly some real positives to look at.
For starters, we can look at Garrett’s insane 12.54 K/9 and 53.9% groundball rates and see some serious upside. Of course, we can also look at his 5.63 BB/9 and his 19.4% HR/FB rate and make the argument the other direction.
But not allowing home runs was harder than ever this year and Garrett spent most of his year pitching in the bandbox of Cincinnati didn’t help. But despite those issues, he did post a 3.21 ERA and a 3.80 xFIP.
I’m not trying to sell you Garrett as an elite reliever, at least not yet, but the upside for it is there. Garrett was downright filthy the first part of 2019 before his command slipped even worse in the second half.
But aside from all of this, when Garrett throws strikes, he is nearly impossible to square up. Remember the high home run rate? A closer look at his numbers shows that Garrett ranked in the top 5 percent of all baseball in expected slugging percentage (xSLG), indicating some bad luck for him in the 2019 season.
Garrett also ranked in the 88th percentile in xBA (expected batting average) further suggesting that Garrett was a bit unlucky in 2019. There is no question about it, he needs to throw more quality strikes. But if he can, you could have a potential lights-out closer with 4-years of club control.
And considering the success Seattle had with arms like Connor Sadzeck and Austin Adams, it could be a massive opportunity to buy. As I mentioned, the Reds fancy themselves contenders in 2020, so trading a useful piece away would require sacrifice, but if the deal makes sense, this could be a golden opportunity.