After the Mookie Betts trade was reworked and became official on Sunday, we anticipated that the Angels would then acquire a much-needed corner outfielder and pitcher. Instead, ego got in the way and perhaps that is to the Mariners benefit.
Mariners’ fans read the news after the original iteration of the Betts trade leaked. The Los Angeles Dodgers would trade Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling to the Angels for Luis Rengifo and another prospect. Finally, the Angels had made a smart baseball decision, right? But after the Betts trade was delayed, the Angels bowed out.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Angels may have been forced to bow out of this trade thanks to owner Arte Moreno’s frustration at being asked to wait until the Betts deal was figured out.
Moreno’s interference in his front office’s running of the baseball operations is so unsurprising, it borders on common knowledge. The Angels spent a lot of money of flash in Moreno’s tenure as the owner, but haven’t produced results that have made Moreno’s meddling pay off.
But for our purposes here, it is the second part of Rosenthal’s tweet that should matter to us. The Dodgers now need to drop 2 players from their 40 man roster to add Betts and David Price. Those two players were going to be Pederson and Stripling in their trade with the Angels. Now that we know that isn’t happening, it is safe to assume both will be available in trade in the next day or two.
Pederson is a fun player with plus power from the left-side, above-average on-base skills, solid corner outfield defense, and is passable in centerfield. He is also just 27-years-old. However, Pederson is set to hit free agency after this season, making his fit in Seattle a bit hazy.
Ross Stripling may be a different story though. The 30-year-old, right-handed pitcher has 3 full seasons of club control remaining and would fill an obvious hole for the 2020 Mariners. With the Dodgers, Stripling has worked both out of the rotation and the bullpen, appearing in 136 games including 52 starts.
Stripling has faired well in both roles, posting a 3.60 FIP, with an 8.77 K/9 and 2.12 BB/9 rate. Those last two stats are major check-marks for Dipoto pitching targets and his 48.7% groundball rate is a nice little bonus.
Stripling features a traditional 4 pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but he can both cut and sink the pitch at times, which allows him to extract some value from the offering. His best pitch is his curveball which generated a 33.3% whiff rate in 2019.
Both the slider and changeup are solid offerings, giving Stripling 4 average or better pitches to work with. That, combined with his ability to generate weak contact and not walk hitters, limits the potential of him getting rocked on a nightly basis.
There has been almost no difference in Stripling’s performance based on the role he is asked to perform. He is a safe bet for a mid-3’s ERA and FIP, with solid strikeout numbers along the way. One knock against Stripling is whether or not he can handle a full workload in the rotation. Stripling has never eclipsed 140 innings in any one season of his pro career, but that could just be a function of his lack of stability in the rotation.
The Mariners should be able to stick Stripling in their rotation right away and he would likely challenge to be their best starter in 2020. His ability to pitch out of the bullpen may come in handy as the Logan Gilbert‘s and Justin Dunn‘s work their way closer to the big leagues as well.
The versatility, production, and club control all point to Stripling being an excellent trade target for Dipoto to pursue. The Dodgers need to clear 40-man space, so the cost would likely need to be a few prospects who aren’t currently on the 40-man. Seattle has a few options they could part with that fit this mold.
Obviously, a lot will depend on the market surrounding Stripling, but some combination of Sam Delaplane or Joey Gerber and lottery ticket prospects like Elvis Alverado or Juan Querecuto could make some sense.
Seattle still needs to add some probability to its 2020 rotation and Stripling brings that. And as an added bonus, he is controllable through multiple seasons and can fill several roles for the big league team. Stripling could be more than a stop-gap. He could be a legitimate member of the next winning team in Seattle. And that has to be a major point in his favor for Dipoto and company.