The Seattle Mariners started the offseason by addressing their starting rotation by signing Robbie Ray to be their number one starter. They have one more spot to fill in that rotation, and many people expect the club to resign Tyler Anderson. The Mariners however need to do better than this. They have to acquire someone better than Anderson, and that person may lie in Milwaukee in the form of right-hander Adrian Houser.
The Mariners Could Benefit From adding Adrian Houser, a ground ball pitcher, to solidify their rotation.
Adrian Houser is going to be 29 years old next year, and he has never been a stud for the Brewers. He made a career-high 26 starts last year as well as a career-high 142 innings. He has never been the sexiest arm on the Brewers staff loaded with names like Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader. Adrian Houser could benefit from being able to not be in such a loaded rotation. On the Mariners he can just start the year in the rotation and his performance will dictate how long he stays there.
Houser is a pitch-to-contact kind of pitcher, meaning he gets lots of groundball outs. Over 60% of his batted balls are on the ground. He does not give up a ton of fly balls either, just about 15%. This would be a pretty good thing to bring to the Mariners, with their improved infield defense. J.P. Crawford is a stud at shortstop, Adam Frazier is an upgrade defensively at second base, and Ty France was among the best defensive first baseman last year.
Adrian Houser uses his sinker as his number one pitch. He uses it more than 53% of the time. He uses this in conjunction with a four-seam fastball another 13 percent of the time. He then uses a curveball, slider, and a changeup to anywhere from 7% to 14% each. He does not have tremendous spin rates on any of his pitches, which makes some sense. Since he isn’t a strikeout pitcher, he doesn’t have high spin pitches that generate swings and misses.
Trade Proposal for Adrian Houser
The Mariners are getting themselves Adrian Houser, who slots right into their rotation. For the Brewers, they get a bullpen option in Drew Steckenrider since they are always looking for bullpen options. They also get Jake Fraley, who offers them a left-handed outfield option. The Brewers have a lot of right-handed outfielders, with Christian Yelich and Corey Ray being the only lefties among their 40 man roster outfielders.
The Brewers have shown an affinity for the Mariners fourth outfielders in the past, they got Ben Gamel from the Mariners back in 2018. They get Jake Fraley here, who is not too dissimilar to Gamel. Fraley can play left field and even center field in a pinch. The Brewers are always churning through pitchers so Houser is not the most valuable player to them anyway. They also get Taylor Dollard, one of the Mariners mid-tier pitching prospects, who should be ready for AA.
Taylor Dollard is the long-term play for the Brewers here. They would make this trade because they get another reliever and an outfielder, but ultimately Taylor Dollard. They would think that he could be at least as good as Adrian Houser someday, and they certainly like to run through pitchers. If they were to move on from Josh Hader, they would have a suitable back end of the bullpen replacement in Drew Steckenrider.
A question for the Brewers could be, who would take Adrian Houser’s place in the rotation? They have some internal options. Their top pitching prospect, Ethan Small, had a sub 2 ERA in 8 starts in AA and a 2.06 ERA in 9 starts at AAA. He will turn 25 in February so he could be an option to take the spot of Houser. The next option could be Aaron Ashby who started 4 games for the Brewers last year and appeared in 13 total games. The pair of lefties could impact their rotation next year.
Adrian Houser would be a nice fit in the back end of the Mariners rotation. A rotation of Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, Adrian Houser, and Logan Gilbert is a very solid one. That would be a very high floor rotation, but it also has some good upside. Adrian Houser could even have another rung to climb to and get even better. To contrast this, the worst-case scenario for Houser is that he bounces back and forth from the bullpen, which he has done a little bit in his career.
Adrian Houser would be a pretty cheap player that the Mariners can bring in who gives them a higher floor in a starting pitcher. They also would not have to give up much for him, and they match up well with a need for the Brewers. The Mariners should strongly consider bringing in the ground baller to be the Mariners fifth starter.