The Mariners have dealt OF/SS Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, and reliever Danny Farquhar to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for RHP Nate Karns, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, and OF Boog Powell. For the Mariners, the key piece acquired is Nate Karns, who is 27 years old, and under control for very, very cheap. As most Mariners fans know, utility man Brad Miller is the one we’re sad to see go.
This is the first move under the reign of Jerry Dipoto, and there will be many more moves to come. Out of the Mariners’ entire system, there are now only three players in which Jerry Dipoto has had a hand in acquiring. The rest are Jack Zduriencik’s guys. Dipoto isn’t going to tear this whole thing down, but you can bet that there’s going to be a lot of turnover in the system. We’ll be moving to a philosophy employed earlier on in Zduriencik’s career that will feature more defense, more on-base skills, speed, and pitching. Thank God, right?
I’m not blown away by the return, given that we gave up Brad Miller, but we are getting very low-costing years from young players, and Brad has only been worth a mere 4.3 WAR over three seasons. Losing LoMo and Farquhar hurts me, but putting my bias aside, it’s probably time for them to go. Over almost an entire season, LoMo hit for a .225/.302/.383 triple slash, with a wOBA of .298 and wRC+ of 90. Not great numbers. Especially for someone who plays first base. On the year, he was worth -0.2 WAR. (However he did point at many Fernando Rodney arrows.) As for Farquhar, he was hot garbage last year. Once one of the best relievers in the league according to FIP, xFIP, and SIERA, he was one of the worst last year and was worth -0.2 WAR. All three players have all the potential in the world, but they are all mired in problems of their own.
As for the return, it’s not exactly what I expected. Let’s dive into it.
Nate Karns is a big guy at 6’3”, 230 lbs. He’s always been of a very high rank with each of his ballclubs. In 2012, he ranked #5 in the Nationals’ system. In 2013, he ranked #9 in their system. In 2014, he ranked #5 in the Rays’ organization. All courtesy of Baseball America. His fastball tops out at 96 mph and generally sits at 91. According to Baseball America it can even touch as high as 98, with some rise. That’s some heat. To go along with his plus fastball, Karns has a plus-plus curveball that ranks 70 on the 20-80 scale. (That’s GOOD.) His curve averages around 84 mph. Very, very fast. In fact, faster than all starters in the MLB. He also has a changeup that isn’t the worst, so, he’s an interesting kid. His mechanics aren’t great, which, like always, translates to some inconsistent command. He has a little experience in the majors, which is always a plus.
Ian Malinowski compares him to Chris Archer, which quite frankly I think is a poor comparison, but hey, it’s a fun one!
In John Sickels’ yearly Top 20 Prospects list (he does one for each team), Karns did not crack the list. He did, however, get a C+ grade, which basically means he’s got several positives, but also “a question mark or three”.
Not to be confused with the former Oriole/Indian/Dodger, Boog Powell is a former Midwest League All-Star Game MVP. He is currently 22 years of age and has fared pretty solid in the minors. What Powell brings to the table is a little speed, plate discipline, and on-base skills. He can also play all three outfield positions, which is very valuable. The classic Dipoto type. He’s a pretty “meh” type player, but quite frankly those players are pretty darn valuable. He was ranked #21 in the A’s organization in 2014, which is about what you’d expect from a little guy who hits for no power. (His career slugging % is lower than his on-base percentage.) He was also suspended in 2014 for using a banned substance, so at least he’s trying to get some pop.
Oh, and, uh… he stole home once.
Riefenhauser is a lefty hurler who throws a fastball that generally hovers around 90, with some late movement. His numbers in the minors are very good, and his numbers in the minors are very bad.
On John Sickels’ ranking list that was mentioned above, Riefenhauser received neither an A, nor a B or C. Not even a C+ that Karns earned. He was put in the “others” category along with Boog Powell.
There isn’t much out on Riefenhauser that I trust, so just know that’s he’s a pretty meh pickup.
All in all, I think Dipoto did alright. I haven’t seen the reaction of Mariners Twitter, but I’d assume it’s something like, “WTF, mate?” It’s sad to see the trio go, because they were all more or less fan favorites. It sucks to give up on the Brad Miller project, because I feel he’s almost certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with in the next coming years. (Whether it’s a shortstop or in center.) Sure, the mechanics in his fielding aren’t great, but he’s going to hit. As for LoMo, I love the guy, but I can’t keep defending a guy who hits .240 every year, as much as I want to. Farquhar, eh, whatever. I like him but relievers are volatile and dime a dozen.
Be excited in the return we got. The Rays are an analytical organization as well (and I say that with so much hope that we are), but I think this is a win-win for each side. Riefenhauser is basically a dart throw, but Powell has an awesome name and is a very nice solid player, and Karns has a ton of upside. There’s a reason it took Brad Miller to get these guys. No one is more sad to see him go than my sister, but I’m not exactly stoked about it either. So long, Brad, may your flow be granted to grow elsewhere and not be forced to cut by Lloyd McClendon.
(Mark Trumbo is our current starting first baseman)