It is officially the off-season or as some Seattle Mariners fans may call it, “Jerry Dipoto season”. No team has been a more willing trade partner than the Tampa Bay Rays, so today, we look at one of the many trade candidates.
Honestly, does the off-season even start until the Mariners and Rays make their annual winter trade? The two front offices are so eager to make deals, they typically don’t even bother waiting until Thanksgiving to get things done.
This year may be no exception as the Rays and the Mariners actually match up quite well on a few fronts. But perhaps most notably, the Rays have quite a bit of solid, controllable pitching, while the Mariners have the outfielders and catchers the Rays could be looking for.
The Rays also have a mountain of quality prospects they need to add to their 40-man roster, or potentially lose them to the Rule 5 draft, so moving players off the 40-man could be a major goal for Tampa this winter.
One player that may pique the Mariners’ interest is 26-year-old RHP Yonny Chirinos. Why might the Mariners be interested in the young Venezuelan? Well, he basically checks all the boxes for Seattle.
He is club-controlled until after the 2024 season, won’t be arbitration-eligible for another year, throws a lot of strikes, and has experience both as a starter and a reliever. It sounds like a great fit.
Chirinos has appeared in 44 games for the Rays in the last 2 seasons, including making 25 starts along the way. In those outings, he has covered 223 innings, posted a 4.07 FIP, a 3.71 ERA, a 7.6 K/9, a 1.12 WHIP, and a 2.1 BB/9. All solid numbers.
Chirinos is good against both lefties and righties, and the splits between his use as a starter and a reliever are almost non-existent. At this stage, Chirinos is what he is. He isn’t a star or future ace, but he may be a right-handed version of Marco Gonzales.
His versatility and solid production make him valuable and therefore he won’t be easy to acquire. Perhaps the Rays, who had interest in Domingo Santana this summer, would accept the swap of the two, plus trading away a Rule 5 eligible prospect for a prospect who won’t need to be added.
Or perhaps the Mariners, who have been said to be looking for an MLB piece in any Haniger trade, see Chirinos as the perfect fit and a combination of Chirinos and one or two of the Rule 5 eligibles for Haniger is a fair deal.
Whether Chirinos ends up in the bullpen or rotation long-term is largely irrelevant. Whether it be in a multi-inning reliever role or as a #4 starter, the value is going to be there. Chirinos provides the Mariners with a high-floor starter for 2020 and one with plenty of club control to flip or use at the beginning of your competitive window.
It is very rare that a team would be willing to move a pitcher like Chirinos, but the Ray’s may very well be just the team to do it. And if Tampa is truly shopping their young righty, placing a call to their old buddy Jerry Dipoto may be a great way to get it started.