A trade! A trade! The Mariners have finally made a trade! Sing it to the heavens!
Jerry Dipoto has finally stepped out of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber to do what he does best: make trades. And his first trade of the 2019-20 offseason is with a familiar partner, the New York Yankees. For an undisclosed amount of international slot money, the Mariners have acquired recently DFA’d left-handed pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. from Brian Cashman and company.
Cortes has seen some success at the minor league level, but has struggled in limited MLB action. Through his 71.1 innings of work dating back to 2018, Cortes posted a 5.84 ERA (5.14 xFIP) with a 9.09 K/9 and 3.89 BB/9. However, despite his struggles last year, Cortes was able to maintain a spot in a talented Yankees bullpen for most of the 2019 season.
The 24-year-old southpaw isn’t overpowering foe, only offering a fastball in the range of 87-90 MPH with nothing plus in the rest of his arsenal. His sinker may be his best pitch, which generated a 25% whiff rate and limited opposing hitters to a .181 average, though he only threw it 81 times last year.
For now, Cortes appears to be just another body to thrown in the bullpen competition. There isn’t a whole lot to be impressed by, though that shouldn’t discourage Mariners fans just yet. The Mariners, under the Dipoto regime, have been one of the best in the league in terms of developing relief talent. Cortes could be yet another success story along the lines of Roenis Elías or Austin Adams.
Cortes has some experience as a starter and could find himself in Tacoma’s rotation if he doesn’t break camp with the team, given he still has two minor league options left on his deal. That experience could come in handy whether the Mariners continue to utilize an opener next season or need a swingman of sorts now that Wade LeBlanc is no longer with the organization.