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Dipoto makes sixth trade of the season

When reliever Anthony Swarzak entered a game against the Twins last week in Seattle, an encouraging cheer was heard in the upper deck of the ballpark by Elliott Bay: "Swarzak! Raise your trade value!"

He didn't, really, despite his one scoreless inning of work, but he was nevertheless traded today. Swarzak will head to Atlanta, where he'll join a similarly middling bullpen for a team that has some potential. In exchange, the Braves are sending left-handed reliever Jesse Biddle to the Mariners.

Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto has a tendency to seek out potentially undervalued players and reclamation projects, and Biddle fits that profile. A former first-round draft selection by the Phillies, Biddle had a nice 2018 season, when he went 6-1 with a respectable 3.11 ERA in 6323 innings, but has had the wheels fall off this season; thus far in 2019, Biddle has thrown 1123 innings over 15 appearances, pitching to a less-respectable 5.40 ERA and a dismal 2.400 WHIP.

There was a weird component to this deal involving another player, pitcher Arodys Vizcaino. Theoretically also coming to Seattle from Atlanta, Vizcaino is on the 60-day injured list following shoulder surgery and is not expected to play again this season. He's not under contract beyond 2019, either, meaning the M's traded for a player who will in all likelihood never suit up for them. His inclusion appears to be a bookkeeping maneuver designed to shift his salary obligations to the Mariners as a kind of compensation for Swarzak's lofty paychecks. The Mariners are also sending about $2 million in cash to the Braves, essentially making the trade a wash financially. Why Seattle had to take on the contract of a player who will not play for them instead of simply sending Atlanta an additional $4 million or so is a mystery.

Swarzak had always been thought of a short-term Mariner. He came to Seattle in the Robinson Canó/Edwin Díaz trade with the Mets as a salary offset piece and figured to be flipped elsewhere at some point.

Biddle has no minor-league options remaining and will report directly to the Mariner bullpen tomorrow. Starting pitcher Tommy Milone is also expected to be recalled form Tacoma tomorrow to make that night's start against the Rangers. The likeliest player to vacate the roster to make room is reliever Parker Markel, but no announcement has been made.

Jesse Biddle


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