Mallex Smith's tenure as a Mariner was a short one.
Smith, acquired from the Braves on Wednesday afternoon, didn't even have time to board a flight to Seattle before Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto flipped him to the Rays as part of a package for Drew Smyly. Smith and reliever Shae Simmons were acquired by the M's for minor league pitchers Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows, before the M's shipped him and prospects Carlos Vargas and Ryan Yarbrough to the Rays in exchange for Smyly.
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The second move helps both teams strengthen already strong units. For the Mariners, Smyly joins a rotation that also recently added Yovani Gallardo -- a move that, while questionable at the time, at least makes a little more sense now that Gallardo won't be more than a fifth starter. Smyly will likely slot in somewhere behind ace Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, possibly ahead of fellow southpaw James Paxton.
“We felt he was a really attractive target for us in a market where there were few pitchers available,” Dipoto said of Smyly. “We felt he was a particular highlight. And we focused on him from the get go.”
Smyly showed signs of being a dominant pitcher during his time with the Rays -- he posted a 3.11 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning in 12 starts in 2015 -- but he gave up 32 homers in 30 starts this past season, carrying a 4.88 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. The 27-year-old might find Safeco Field, a pitcher-friendly park, better suited to his skillset.
Just as the Mariners reinforced what should be a top-half rotation, the acquisition of 23-year-old speedster Smith makes a good Rays outfield defense even better. Smith won't displace Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier in center, but he could find a home in left field opposite Steven Souza. The team also recently added corner outfielder Colby Rasmus, and have returning OF/DH Corey Dickerson as well.
Smith's first year in the majors wasn't a huge hit -- he batted just .238/.316/.365 in 72 games -- but he often flashed his offensive potential, including swatting four triples and stealing 16 bases. More steals should come for Smith as well, after he stole 229 bags in parts of five minor league seasons.
Perhaps the most intriguing name not discussed above is Gohara, part of the Braves' return for Smith. The 20-year-old southpaw put up a 1.81 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings in the Mariners' low minors this past season. Gohara joins a stable of promising arms in the Braves' minors.
Casilla Bolsters Athletics' Pen
A few week back Santiago Casilla snuck onto a list I compiled of the 10 most intriguing free agents left on the market.
He's no longer eligible for such a list after the A's reportedly snapped up the reliever with a two-year, $11 million deal. The deal includes the possibility for Casilla to earn another $3 million in performance bonuses.
Casilla wasn't likely to find a job as a closer this winter after falling out of favor in San Francisco, and in Oakland he'll back up returning closer Ryan Madson. From that perspective, the 36-year-old holds little fantasy value.
What he does do is further fortify a quietly stout Athletics bullpen. Along with Madson, the team returns former closer, and hopefully healthy, Sean Doolittle, as well as positive 2016 contributors Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks. Despite making some other moves around the margins -- Rajai Davis, Trevor Plouffe and Matt Joyce are among the Athletics' new additions this offseason as well -- the club isn't expected to contend, but the moves could keep them out of the cellar in the AL West.
Quick Hits: A number of players and teams avoided arbitration in recent days, including (settlement in parentheses): Mariners and Jean Segura ($6.2 million); Indians and Trevor Bauer ($3.55 million); Angels and Danny Espinosa ($5.425 million); Mets and Lucas Duda ($7.25 million); Phillies and Freddy Galvis ($4.35 million); Cardinals and Matt Adams ($2.8 million); and the Pirates and Jared Hughes ($2.825 million) as well as Drew Hutchison ($2.3 million) ... Mark Trumbo recently told the Orioles he would be willing to accept a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range, per FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Trumbo reportedly rejected a four-year, $52-55 million offer from the Orioles back in November, hoping that he would find much more lucrative proposals as the offseason rolled along, but that hasn't come to pass. Every winter it seems like one or two free agents overplay their hands, and that may be the case for the 31-year-old this offseason ... according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the Blue Jays have "remained in contact" with free agent outfielder Michael Saunders, who is also believed to be drawing interest from the Orioles. Saunders could be a sneaky-good addition late in the offseason for some club ... according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, free agent reliever Greg Holland is seeking a two-year deal with an opt-out after the first year. The structure would allow him to test free agency again if he has a big 2017 in his return from Tommy John surgery. Holland may land in a spot that comes with some fantasy value, but even if he's closing games there's no certainty that he immediately returns to pre-surgery form in 2017 ... Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said that Trayce Thompson (back) is a question mark for the beginning of spring training. Friedman explained that while Thompson has been moving toward taking part in baseball activities as his rehab progresses, his availability for spring training remains dodgy. He has not yet swung a bat this offseason.