BY Art Thiel 10:23PM 05/25/2018

Mariners trade for proven vets, beat Twins, 2-1

The Mariners traded two pitching prospects to Tampa Bay for OF Denard Span and reliever Alex Colome, then beat the Twins 2-1 behind James Paxton’s 11 strikeouts.

Denard Span will start in left for the Mariners. / Tampa Bay Rays

In a trade with Tampa Bay Friday, the Mariners turned Robinson Cano’s suspension into a  veteran outfielder and a veteran relief pitcher. The most remarkable aspect of the deal is that it cost only two minor leaguers from a farm system believed nearly bereft of trade-worthy major-league prospects.

If this works out, general manager Jerry Dipoto will qualify for sainthood, and the Rays will be relocated to North Korea.

Acquired were Denard Span, 34, a career .282 hitter in 11 MLB seasons with four teams, and Alex Colome, 29, who led MLB with 47 saves in 2017.

Departing are pitching prospects Andrew Moore, 24 next week, who started 11 games for the big club last year but struggled in spring training, and Tommy Romero, 20, a 15th-round draft pick who did good work for Class A Clinton this season — 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA in nine starts and 54 strikeouts in 44 innings.

“Span’s skill set fits our team quite well,” Dipoto told reporters before the game with the Twins, which Seattle won 2-1 (box). “And the impact we felt like we were getting in Alex Colome trumps what we thought we could get into in the starting pitching market.

“We left ourselves some (payroll) wiggle room that if a starter or something otherwise is needed as we get into the season, we still aren’t entirely cut off. We have the ability to go for it if we can.”

The trade relatively early in the season was driven by the 80-game absence of Cano, who violated MLB’s PED policy. His absence also leaves unspent $12 million, half of Cano’s annual salary.

The Mariners will pay a pro-rated $6.24 million of Span’s $11 million salary, and $3.8 million of Colome’s salary. In addition, the Rays agreed to give the Mariners $4.75 million in cash, according to the Associated Press.

So the investment is modest enough to allow the Mariners to make a bigger move as the trade deadline approaches at the end of July.

The acquisitions signal the Mariners, back to 10 games over .500 at 30-20, are serious about 2018.

“I think it’s an awesome message that (despite) everything we’ve dealt with in the last eight to 10 days here, that we’re all in on this season,” manager Scott Servais told MLB.com. “That even though we had a setback with Robbie and the injury and suspension, it’s not going to derail us. Our eyes are set on the goal and that’s getting to the playoffs. This helps us.”

Colome, an All-Star in 2016 with a 1.91 ERA and 37 saves, likely is headed for the eighth-inning set-up role, where Juan Nicasio has been shaky. The spot originally belonged to David Phelps, who was lost for the season to Tommy John elbow surgery. Phelps was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Colome.

Span, who spent most of his career in center field, is destined to start in left field ahead of Ben Gamel, hitting .226. Guillermo Heredia remains in center after Dee Gordon was moved to second base, his original position, to replace Cano. Gordon is on the 10-day disabled list with a broken big toe, although he was taking grounders pre-game.

This makes us a more complete club in the present while also offering impact beyond this season,” Dipoto said. “Colomé brings an all-star resume, fortifying what we believe is an already solid back end of the bullpen. Span adds length to our lineup as a steady and smart player with consistent on-base skills in addition to a veteran presence that enhances our environment.”

Colome is fourth in the AL with 11 saves, converting his past 10 in a row. In 2017, he led the AL with 47 saves, including six of four or more outs, also leading the league. Since the start of the 2016 season, his 95 saves are second-most in MLB, trailing only the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen. He’s spent his career with the Rays, which began in 2013.

In his past 17 outings, his ERA is 2.16 and opposing batters are hitting .194.

Span reached base safely in 35 of 43 games with Tampa Bay, batting .238 with 27 runs, with seven doubles, a triple, four home runs, 28 RBI, 28 walks and six stolen bases.

In the game, James Paxton struck out 11 in seven innings and Edwin Diaz closed for his 18th save. Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger had run-scoring singles for the Mariners’ eighth win in 11 games, providing the best 50-game start since the 2003 team went 32-18.

 


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YourThoughts

  • dingle

    I wasn’t aware that there were any players left in the Mariner farm system to trade.

    Span should be serviceable. He was ok with the Giants, but “ok” might be good enough to help keep the Mariners on track. Colome has been pretty shaky this year, and I think his All-Star appearance is more aberration. That said, he might still be effective.

    Considering what they gave up, not a terrible move, if only to plug a couple leaks.

    • art thiel

      He had a couple of bad games in April. His last 8 have been solid, and he looked good Sunday in nine pitches.

  • Alan Harrison

    I read some of the comments coming from Tampa. They HATE this trade, hate that they’re selling off major leaguers for low minor leaguers, and believe that catcher Wilson Ramos is the next one out, because $10MM/year. But more than that, they hate that the team is extorting the city for a new ballpark (rather than building one themselves) and threatening to sell/move. Their ballpark is the worst in the majors, granted, but asking the city to buy them a new one probably won’t work in 2018. The ballpark scam is not working as well as it used to, even when the team is tanking to show lower expenses to a prospective buyer. St. Pete may miss the Rays when they’re gone, but they’re not willing to spend tax dollars on a new stadium – and I applaud that. Portland? Las Vegas? Mexico City?

    • Tian Biao

      hmm, very interesting comment. there is some real irony here: when the M’s were feeble and struggling, lousy team, low attendance, bad ownership, reviled indoor stadium (ie most of the ’80s and early 90s), it was always ‘tampa bay’ ‘tampa bay’ the M’s are moving to tampa bay. and now tampa bay is the new M’s: lousy team, low attendance, bad ownership, taxpayer extortion, reviled indoor stadium.

      you’re partly right about the ballpark extortion plan not working as well as it used to, but only in existing locations. new locations still seem willing to pony up. i mean, even the tax-hating ultra-red folks of OkC were willing to throw a bunch of tax dollars at their new team. I’m guessing some city out there will be willing to pay, if it comes to that.

      • Husky73

        Montreal wants baseball back. The team could play in the (awful) Olympic Stadium (again) until a new downtown (riverfront) stadium is built. This allows the team to remain in the AL East, preventing a shuffling of the deck.

        • art thiel

          I don’t think MLB believes in Montreal.

      • art thiel

        There’s always a city. Portland is rounding up the right wealthies, but they have nothing but ideas, no site or plan or proof they can do it 100 percent privately.

    • Husky73

      Montreal.

    • art thiel

      It is puzzling move for the Rays, unless they’re conceding because of NY/BOS. But it’s a terrible look for a stadium campaign.

      And Oakland remains the worst stadium in MLB.

      • Alan Harrison

        Of course, I forgot for a moment. But St. Pete, while it is not falling apart like the Coliseum, is a horrible place to see a game and is in the wrong city on Tampa Bay. Are they conceding? Probably, but in doing so, they’re lowering their player expenses to show (falsely) low overhead and present themselves as going the Astro route to success. I hear you about Portland, but there’s a lot of money there. Las Vegas has tons of money but another desert city might not be the best idea for a summer sport. MLB believes more in Mexico than Montreal, so if there’s a dark horse, I think it’s there.

        • Husky73

          Tropicana Field is clean and comfortable. The exterior and parking lots are pleasant and landscaped. It is difficult to get to. Unlike the Oakland Coliseum, it is not in a dangerous area and there are amenities (restaurants, shops, stores) around the stadium.

          • Alan Harrison

            Yes, I’ve been there. Antiseptic on the outside and a horrible venue for baseball on the inside. Ugly, cramped, dark, and without any character except for the bush-league ground rules about hitting wires. An ashtray with a lid on it. I don’t care about the area because St. Pete is just another suburb with less going for it than Tacoma.

      • Husky73

        I was at the Coliseum last year. It is indeed awful…made worse by the location. Scary.

  • jafabian

    I love this deal from the M’s perspective. It shores up their biggest concerns after losing Phelps and Cano, especially when Jayson Werth isn’t showing in Tacoma that he’s ready to contribute for the M’s.

    I’ve wanted Span to join the M’s for years. He isn’t the player he once was but is going to be a solid fourth OF and a good veteran presence for the young OF the M’s have. Same with Colome for the bullpen. I’m with Rays fams on being puzzled why their club would want to do this but they’ve always been a sucker for young pitching. Dipoto should get an extension after this. Maybe this move can cut down the one run, extra innings excitement of late.

    • art thiel

      A very good deal. My only concern is the tread left on Span. But it’s a whole lot more than Ichiro.

  • woofer

    Colome is a steal. Colome in the 8th followed by Diaz in the 9th is a dynamite combo.

    • art thiel

      Best 1-2 in years.

  • Husky73

    Mr. Moore, Mr. Romero– welcome to Hamhung.

    • art thiel

      I give up: Hamhung?

      • Alan Harrison

        I think it’s a North Korean concentration camp.

      • Husky73

        The city in North Korea where the Rays will relocate.