Friday night (9 Pacific Time) was the deadline for teams to decide whether or not to tender their arbitration eligible players contracts. The Mariners tendered John Jaso, Shawn Kelley, Brendan Ryan, and Jason Vargas contracts. They signed Josh Kinney to a deal and non-tendered Robert Andino. This makes Andino a free agent. One wonders why they would trade for Andino if they are just going to let him become a free agent. Perhaps they had been negotiating a deal with him and couldn’t quite get an agreement. He could still possibly sign with the team, but is not obligated to, which is an interesting move. All the tenders are unsurprising except perhaps Vargas, who I identified as a guy who could get non-tendered since he is projected to make around 7 million dollars and the fences are coming in. No word yet on how much Kinney will make (but it is a MLB contract), as they are avoiding arbitration, but I will update on the Forums when it is announced.On other teams, some relatively interesting players that could be helpful to the Mariners were not tendered contracts. The real common thread between these players is injury problems, but many of them can also be got on team friendly deals.
His 103 ERA – and 87 FIP – in 2012 was most likely driven by small sample size (90.2 innings), but he has a 114 FIP – (111 ERA -) in 592.1 career MLB innings, mainly as a starter. This is better than Blake Beavan, so it is clear that he would fit in the Mariners rotation. However, it is easy to overrate Karstens. He is a very back of the rotation starter who has injury problems. We shouldn’t overrate his small sample size 2012 and his fastball velocity is a pretty poor 89.1 on average. He mainly relies on a sinker, a soft slider, a slow curve, and a change that saw a spike in velocity. He gets ground-balls, but he doesn’t strikeout many batters, although he doesn’t walk many either. The main difference in pitch selection in 2012 (from his career averages) is that he is going to his curve more with 2 strikes against both lefties and righties. This could explain the jump in strikeout rate. He is also apparently releasing the ball more from a sidearm angle than he previously did:
This scares me, even though he didn’t have much platoon splits in 2012. I am afraid that with the injuries and sidearm angle that Karstens will be paid like a back of the rotation starter, only to move to the ‘pen. I think he is interesting, but hardly underrated.
Manny Parra is also a pretty popular guy when it comes to available non-tenders. Parra has a career ERA over 5 (124 ERA -), but has a FIP – of 105, which really looks like a 4th starter. He has a pretty crippling .337 career BABIP that has torched his overall numbers. In 513 career innings, he has a decent 20.3 K % with a too high 11.1 BB %. He has a career 1.04 HR/9IP, which isn’t bad when you take into account that he pitched in Milwaukee. However, he has been worse on the road, much worse. I was really surprised and even had to double check this on different sites to make sure this was true. He also comes with a laundry list of injury issues:
I would really hesitate to give either Karstens or Parra guaranteed deals. Parra gets a lot of ground-balls, throws hard, and has a good mix of pitches, so you can see why he is attractive. He doesn’t have large platoon splits (at least not for his career, his 2012 small sample size included large platoon splits) and hasn’t been greatly better as a reliever (meaning the problem isn’t that the Brewers have been trying to start him).
Ryan Sweeney is a left-handed hitting outfielder (has mainly played right-field, along with some center and left) that has a career 103 wRC + against right-handed pitching. He has had injury problems in his career and has not hit lefties at all, but he could be a real platoon bat that the Mariners could use. The defensive metrics give him mixed reviews, and he really isn’t much of a baserunner. He is a below average player for sure, especially when you count his platoon splits, but he can be very helpful for a team that needs a left-handed outfielder (just the like the Mariners need. Most of his success has actually come the other way, which should play better at Safeco (even with the moved in fences). While I would offer Parra and Karstens (though he will most likely get a MLB contract) minor league contracts, I would give Sweeney a guaranteed roster spot and 2 to 3 million for the season with an option year. He isn’t going to hit for really any power, but he gets on base and hits right-handed pitching while holding his own in the outfield. The Mariners could really use this, especially considering the at-bats they gave to Carlos Peguero last year.
Scott Atchison is coming off an extremely successful year in the bullpen with the Red Sox with a FIP – of 62. In 209.2 career innings, the 36 year old has a 85 FIP -. Obviously the age (and an injury history) makes a multi-year deal unworkable, but a small guaranteed deal is not unreasonable. He doesn’t throw hard, but relies on his slider over half the time, much like Josh Kinney. Perhaps what the Mariners decide to do with Kinney will decide whether or not Atchison has any value with the Mariners.
Mike Pelfrey is interesting from a back of the rotation perspective. Coming off Tommy John Surgery, Pelfrey won’t be ready for the beginning of the season, but most likely will be a minor league contract player. He has a career FIP – of 105 with a good ground-ball rate. This is over nearly 900 MLB innings, and yet he is still only 28. He has a good fastball, a manageable walk rate, along with a low walk rate. He doesn’t strikeout a lot of batters, but the rest of the skill set works pretty well.
Jesus Flores could be a potential fit at catcher after playing in 83 games for the Nationals in 2012. He played at a replacement level, but he has 1014 plate appearances in his MLB career and a 1.7 fWAR. He is not much of a hitter, and the Klaassen catcher rankings had him ranked as one of the worst catchers in baseball defensively in 2012, but he is a warm body that would probably require just a minor league contract. He could be an option at AAA, or at worst, a fill in until Mike Zunino is ready at the big league level.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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