Trade deadline action
Mike Leake has pitched his last game as a Mariner
July 31, 2019
Greetings from our nation's capitol, where while attending the Nationals-Braves game this afternoon grandsalami.net kept tabs on all the wheeling and dealing as today's 1:00pm PDT MLB trading deadline approached. The Mariners were involved in a couple of notable deals (one involving the Nationals, as it happens).
First, the Mariners traded veteran relievers Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elías to Washington in exchange for three minor-league pitchers: 25-year-old lefty Aaron Fletcher, who was recently promoted from Class-A to Double-A in the Nationals' system; Taylor Guilbeau, a 26-year-old fellow southpaw who was recently promoted to Triple-A after posting a 1-2 record with a 2.31 ERA and 1.057 WHIP at Double-A Harrisburg; and 20-year-old right-hander Elvis Alvarado, who converted from outfielder to pitcher last season and this year has been with Washington's Gulf Coast League rookie team.
The perhaps bigger deal was the last-second trade of starting pitcher Mike Leake to Arizona for minor-league infielder José Caballero. Leake had long been thought to be on the trading block, going back to the offseason, due to his relatively large contract. His loss isn't surprising, but in the short term does leave the M's in a small pickle as there is no one readily available to capably step into Leake's rotation spot. Caballero, 22, has been playing at Advanced-Class-A Visalia in the California League, where he posted an impressive .388 on-base mark and 28 stolen bases in 43 games. Leake effectively replaces Zack Grienke atop the Diamondbacks' rotation, as Grienke was traded to the Astros this afternoon as well.
No word yet on where the new acquisitions will be placed, but it's reasonable to assume they will each remain at the minor-league level they've been paying at most recently. Guilbeau appears at first glance to be the prize of the haul; MLB.com ranked him as the Nationals' 15th-best prospect. He has been and figures to continue as a reliever, not having started a game since 2017. Fletcher and Alvarado likewise project solely as relief pitchers.
For now, the Mariners have no obvious candidate to replace Leake. Felix Hernández is still at least a month away from a possible return from the IL, Christian Bergman and Tyler Cloyd have been starting in Tacoma to poor effect (9.57 ERA and 7.43 ERA, respectively), and Erik Swanson has been brutal in a starting role at both the Major League and Triple-A levels. Jerry Dipoto will likely keep combing the waiver wire looking for a short-term arm to plug into the mix while the more promising minor-league prospects finish out their seasons in their current postings.