Trader Jerry Strikes Again
Photo: Keith Allison Creative Commons license 2.0
New Mariners Alex Colomé and Denard Span
General Manager Jerry Dipoto made his first in-season trade of the year earlier today, acquiring relief pitcher Alex Colomé and outfielder Denard Span from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league pitchers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.
Colomé led the American League in saves last year with 47, but won't be asked to close in Seattle so long as Edwin Díaz remains effective. Instead, he will slot into a setup role, where Juan Nicasio has struggled.
But the big piece of this deal, at least in the short term, appears to be Span. With Robinson Canó out with his 80-game suspension and Dee Gordon shifted to second base until Canó returns (and currently out for another week or so with a broken toe), Span looks to get a fair amount of playing time in either left or center field. Guillermo Heredia, who has been outstanding of late, figures to start most often in the other spot, with Ben Gamel riding the bench much of the time.
Span and Colomé will combine to earn roughly $10 million over the rest of the season, a figure that falls short of the salary that would have been paid to Canó had he not been suspended, meaning the Mariners will not be needing to expand their overall player payroll for the year with this trade. The Rays are also sending the M's $4.75 million in cash, which will cover buying out Span's 2019 contract year should the M's decline the $12 million team option. Colomé, on the other hand, is still two years shy of free agency; he will be arbitration-eligible next season.
Span had been playing left field for the Rays, but was a career center fielder prior to this season. Now 34, he's not as fleet of foot as he used to be, but still has decent outfield range and can still steal you a base now and then. He's so far posted a meager sub-.240 batting average this season, but continues to be a disciplined hitter with a sharp eye as evidenced by his .360+ on-base percentage. Span has had exceptional seasons with the Twins and Nationals (including leading the National League in hits in 2014) before taking a bit of a downturn over two years with the Giants. He was traded to the Rays over the offseason in a salary offset when the Giants acquired Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay.
Colomé was an All-Star in 2016, a terrific season for him that included a sparkling 1.91 ERA, and was reasonably good in his 47-save year last season; so far this year, he has underperformed his history with a 4+ ERA over 212⁄3 innings.
Going the other way, Moore made his Major League debut with the Mariners last year, going 1-5 over 11 appearances (nine starts) and posting an ERA of 5.34. He still has some promise and could develop into a serviceable Major Leaguer in the future. Romero, 20, was 5-1 in Rookie League ball last year and had been pitching with the Mariners' Class-A Midwest League affiliate in Clinton this season, posting a record of 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA in nine starts.