The confetti from the Royals' World Series parade had barely been swept off the Kansas City streets Thursday when the Mariners and Rays rang in the offseason with a megadeal.
The teams swapped six players in total, with the Mariners sending Brad Miller, Logan Morrison and Danny Farquhar to the Rays in exchange for Nate Karns, Boog Powell and C.J. Riefenhauser. The trade, seemingly out of nowhere, was made official late Thursday.
The deal is one with immediate impact at the major league level for both clubs, as five of the six players changing hands have major league experience. Only Powell, an outfield prospect who split time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, has yet to make his major league debut.
It's the Rays who will likely see the biggest difference in 2016. In Miller, they get a 26-year-old who batted .258/.329/.402 with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases this past season while playing five different positions. Once thought to be the Mariners' shortstop of the future, Miller will likely find a home up the middle with the Rays.
“The versatility that he has is a bonus and could come into play, but that wasn’t the focus on this,” Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said. “Our focus was on getting a middle infielder, especially one who can play shortstop.”
Morrison and Farquhar should also contribute immediately. Silverman told reporters he envisions Morrison as a likely DH candidate after LoMo swatted 17 homers with the Mariners this past season. Farquhar, who struggled in 2015 after a strong 2014 campaign, joins a Rays bullpen that already includes stoppers Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger.
The driving force behind the deal for the Mariners was Karns. The 27-year-old showed well for himself in his first full season, finishing 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA and 145/56 K/BB ratio over 147 innings of work. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said Karns will be slotted into the M's starting rotation "immediately."
“We feel like he’s a very strong upgrade in that regard,” Dipoto said. “He’s a power arm with power stuff, coming off a really solid season in the big leagues.”
Riefenhauser is a left-handed reliever and Powell has displayed strong on-base skills in the minors.
Royals Watching The Throne
With the aforementioned parade in the past, the Royals got busy putting together a roster to defend their crown next season.
The club exercised options on Alcides Escobar and Wade Davis for next year, ensuring their starting shortstop and closer will be in tow when the season opens. Escobar will make $5.25 million and Davis is set to earn $8 million in 2016.
Escobar had a largely pedestrian regular season but more than earned his keep in the postseason. The 28-year-old hit .478/.481/.652 en route to an ALCS MVP award, and he was the catalyst for the Royals' offense for the entirely of the playoffs.
Long a well-kept secret, Davis has taken his place as one of the game's best relievers in recent years. The right-hander posted a 0.94 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 78/20 K/BB ratio in 67 1/3 innings this season, saving 17 games in place of fallen closer Greg Holland. With Holland likely to be non-tendered this winter, Davis will have the job all to himself.
The Royals also ensured they won't go home empty-handed should starting left fielder Alex Gordon leave this offseason. After Gordon declined his $14 million option, the team extended a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer Thursday that will net the team a draft pick in the event Gordon signs elsewhere.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said the team will attempt to keep the Gold Glove outfielder but acknowledged his future in Kansas City is uncertain.
“I know you guys are going to get crushed every day with ‘What are we going to do with Alex Gordon?’” Moore said. “If I knew, I would tell you. We’re going to take it a day at a time. We’re going to communicate. And we’re going to just evaluate the market one day at a time.”
Thumbs Up For Granderson
One wonders what Curtis Granderson might have done in the World Series if entirely healthy.
The outfielder, who hit three home runs in the five game series, underwent surgery this week to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Granderson injured the thumb sliding into a base in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs but played through the injury.
And he played well. Granderson batted .250/.360/.700 with five RBI and five runs scored in the Series, providing one of the few sparks for the Mets offense.
The good postseason followed a regular season in which Granderson appeared to get more comfortable in his new home. The 34-year-old slashed .259/.364/.457 with 26 homers, 70 RBI and 98 runs scored this past season, adding 11 steals as the Mets' primary leadoff hitter. With the successful surgery behind him, Granderson should be ready for the start of spring training as the Mets aim at a return to the postseason.
Quick Hits: A couple deserving stars received Comeback Player of the Year honors on Thursday. Matt Harvey and Prince Fielder earned the accolades after each turned in a strong 2015 campaign. Harvey owned a 2.71 ERA over 29 starts for the Mets, while Fielder batted .305/.378/.463 with 23 home runs and 98 RBI ... Aramis Ramirez announced his retirement from baseball at the age of 37. Ramirez had 2,303 hits and 386 home runs in his 18-year career ... After acquiring him at the trade deadline, the Giants declined the $8 million club option on Marlon Byrd for 2016. Byrd, 38, has some pop but likely isn't an everyday option for major league clubs anymore ... The Giants were busy, also declining Nori Aoki's $5.5 million option for next year. Concussion symptoms marred Aoki's 2015 season and the club obviously felt some concern remains about his well-being ... Miguel Sano will play some outfield during the upcoming Dominican Winter League. Although his bat will likely play well enough for Sano to be a full-time DH, the Twins would obviously like to have some options with the 22-year-old ... In a bit of a surprise move, J.P. Howell exercised his $6.25 million player option to stay with the Dodgers next season. Howell posted a 1.43 ERA over 65 appearances in 2015 and could likely have scored more dollars and years on the open market.