Roster Additions: The Seattle Mariners

Aside from the J.J. Putz trade, the Seattle Mariners organization has had a fairly quiet off-season despite its disappointing 2008 season and 61-101 finish. Haunted and hindered by some poor contracts (Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva, Kenji Johjima), the club has made only minor adjustments to the 40-man roster via free agency with the acquisitions of corner infielder Russell Branyan, and reliever Tyler Walker. The club also selected Rule 5 draft pick Reegie Corona, a middle infielder.

As well, the organization added five prospects to the 40-man roster: pitchers Gaby Hernandez, Stephen Kahn, Marwin Vega, as well as outfielders Michael Wilson and Greg Halman.

Hernandez was originally selected out of a Miami high school in the third round of the 2004 amateur draft by the New York Mets. He was then traded to the Florida Marlins for veteran catcher Paul LoDuca in December of 2005. In July of 2008, the Marlins shipped Hernandez to Seattle for ancient reliever Arthur Rhodes. The 22-year-old has excellent stuff – including an 88-93 mph fastball, plus curveball and change-up – but his results have been inconsistent. Hernandez began 2008 in Triple-A but was lit up. He allowed 94 hits in 64.2 innings and posted reasonable rates of 3.62 BB/9 and 7.52 K/9. He also allowed 14 home runs (1.95 HR/9). Hernandez was demoted to Double-A where he went 3-0 in four starts with an ERA of 4.30. The trade to Seattle followed and Hernandez was again assigned to Double-A, where he posted a 5.01 ERA in six starts. Overall on the season, he allowed 154 hits in 121.2 innings, with rates of 3.33 BB/9 and 6.95 K/9. Right-handed batters hit .327 against him. He was equally ineffective in the Arizona Fall League with 33 hits allowed in 29.1 innings and an ERA of 7.67.

Kahn was an interesting addition to the 40-man roster after missing all of the last two seasons with ACL tears in both knees. Despite having thrown just 14.1 innings since 2006, he took a valuable roster spot. Those 14.1 innings came in the 2008 Arizona Fall League, where Kahn allowed 18 hits, 10 walks and struck out just nine. There was no need to add the right-handed to the roster considering his terrible command and control – which have always been bad and will definitely not be helped by the time off. Even with a fastball that can touch 95 mph and a good curveball, it’s unlikely that a team would have taken a Rule 5 risk on him, nor would he have survived on a Major League roster for the entire season.

On the plus side, Vega has pitched in both of the last two seasons but, like Kahn, he was added to the roster despite his inability to find the strike zone. His rates from Double-A in 2008 include a 5.77 BB/9 and a 6.55 K/9. That creates a stunning 1.14 K/BB rate. The right-handed reliever allowed 67 hits in 68.2 innings and gave up just three home runs (0.39 HR/9). The Colombian throws 91-93 mph with an average breaking ball and change-up.

Wilson parlayed a breakout 2008 season into a 40-man roster spot. The 25-year-old outfielder posted a line of .276/.388/.549 with an ISO of .273 in Double-A. Some caution must be taken with his numbers, though. He was old for the league and it was his third attempt at the level. At 28.8%, Wilson did a nice job of reducing his strikeout rates from 2007 (42.8%) and 2006 (34.1%). The outfielder has definite flaws and will likely never hit for average at the Major League level, but he would have become a minor league free agent if he had not been added to the roster. This buys the organization a little more time to ensure 2008 was indeed a fluke.

Halman, on the other hand, is an outfielder who is oozing with undeniable potential. The 21-year-old split the season between High-A ball and Double-A and hit 29 home runs and stole 31 bases, making him a 30-30 threat. Like Wilson, though, Halman does not currently project to hit for average after batting .268 in High-A and .277 in Double-A (as well as a career .262 average). To succeed at higher levels, he will also need to take more walks after posting rates of 5.9 BB% and 6.4 BB% this past season. He looks like Mike Cameron without the Gold Glove defence or Chris Young with less patience.



Print This Post



Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark R
Guest
Mark R
7 years 7 months ago

The proper Halman comp is Alfonso Soriano. Chris Young makes some sense, but Mike Cameron’s career walk rate is 11.3%.

beef
Guest
beef
7 years 7 months ago

What about Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez? We’ll be running 3 CFs out there some days.

DR
Guest
DR
7 years 7 months ago

what about Aaron Heilman??

HSS
Guest
HSS
7 years 7 months ago

Where’s Dave? Trading Putz, Valbuena, etc., hardly qualifies as “fairly quiet” or “minor adjustments.” There are at least 7 additions to the 40-man that you have not mentioned:

– Heilman
– Lugo
– Vargas
– Carp
– Corona
– Chavez
– Gutierrez

Jason54321
Guest
Jason54321
7 years 7 months ago

I agree with HSS. This analysis does not even take into consideration some of the most substantial moves that the M’s have made this offseason. For example, one of the “minor adjustments” not mentioned was the addition of a new centerfielder in Gutierrez that will drastically improve the outfield defense.

Chris
Guest
Chris
7 years 7 months ago

Agreed. By replacing Ibanez and Reed/Bloomquist/et al with Gutierrez and Chavez, Dave has stated the Mariners have potential for a +40 outfield defense. That’s a major change for a team that struggled badly in the field last season.

Eric
Guest
Eric
7 years 7 months ago

This article seems like it could have been written a looong time ago. Not even a mention of the Putz trade.

Marc
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

Hrm, when I edited the story, I lost the “Aside from the J.J. Putz deal…” that was supposed to have preceded the opening sentence…

Candy
Guest
6 years 3 months ago

I think your make some good points. I really think you cover the topic well. I have found similar people’s thoughts http://www.rapidpig.com/Batman+Gotham+Knight+(2008).html and they tend to say the same as you.

wpDiscuz