The MLB Hot Stove is still largely in its preheating stage but teams are now releasing players to avoid paying them their arbitration salaries for 2020. Here is a good chance for the Mariners to fill in some gaps.
The biggest area of need for the Mariners is certainly on their pitching staff. Both the bullpen and the rotation will need to be better and they aren’t going to be short of options to help address both areas of needs.
The pool of candidates to fill these gaps will continue to grow as teams work to clear 40-man roster spots before the November 20th deadline to set your list of players protected from the Rule 5 draft.
One such name that was recently released is Ryan Tepera, a 32-year-old righty who just wrapped up his 10th season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Tepera’s 2019 season was a rough one as a sore elbow impacted his performance and eventually required surgery, costing him most of the season.
But a look back at Tepera’s 2018 season shows a solid arm that has value to a lot of bullpens, especially one like the Mariners. In 2018, Tepera a 3.62 ERA, a 4.17 FIP, 9.46 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, and a 44% groundball rate.
While he isn’t an ace reliever per se, his track record shows that of a solid, 7th inning type of arm. His 2017 was slightly better than 2018, thanks to his ability to limit the home run ball, but when healthy, the stuff is quite good.
He throws a hard sinking 2-seam heater that sits at 92-93 and touches 95 along with a good cutter that sometimes acts like a slider. When you study the numbers and his profile, Tepera could be this winters’ Hunter Strickland.
And the end result could be roughly similar. Remember, despite only appearing in a handful of games for the Mariners, Strickland had enough value to be flipped at the deadline for Aaron Fletcher, a useful relief prospect. If Tepera is healthy, Seattle should be able to do the same.
With 2 years of club control and a high likelihood of a relatively small guaranteed deal, Tepera is a good bet to help stabilize the middle inning while adding a veteran presence to what will likely be a young 2020 Mariners bullpen.