SEATTLE — The Mariners, while open to anything, are primarily looking for bullpen help as the days dwindle before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.
“If there’s an area we can improve on,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said, “it’s situational bullpen.
“We’re comfortable with where we are in the eighth and ninth innings…so it might be beneficial to view both left- and right-handed situational pitchers as targets.”
One thing I’ve learned, and always appreciated, about Dipoto is that if you listen to him, he’ll tell you what he plans to do. Not who or how, but what. Most GMs treat all such information as if it’s the launch codes.
I asked a group of pro scouts and front-office execs from rival clubs to identify which situational relievers might be available. I also asked them to exclude marquee names or closer-types.
The result was a long list of names, but six were cited repeatedly and would therefore seem to be a reasonable early working list: Luis Avilan, Tyler Clippard, Zach Duke, Keone Kela, Joakim Soria and Kirby Yates.
Avilan and Duke are lefties; the other four are right handers.
A disclaimer: There is no indication, at this point, that the Mariners are targeting any of these pitchers. This is merely a snapshot view from some industry insiders regarding who might be available.
It’s worth noting, though, that a similar polling in late May identified then-Tampa Bay outfielder Denard Span as one of six possible trade-acquisition targets when second baseman Robinson Cano received an 80-game suspension.
None of the six relievers listed above carries any “wow” factor, but remember what the Mariners are shopping for: Someone capable of nursing a lead (or keeping a game close) in the sixth or seventh inning.
All six fit that profile, and the only one who has more than $1 million remaining on his current contract is Soria, who is owed roughly $3.4 million.
Duke and Clippard are pending free agents and, effectively, so is Soria, since no club is likely to exercise the $10 million mutual option in his contract for next season.
But Avilan is under control through next season, Yates through 2020 and Kela through 2021.