A big part of this deal for the Mariners is the contract status of these players. They are trading away three players who have each accumulated at least two years of major league service time for three players with very little major league service time. During a player’s first three years in the major leagues, he makes the major league minimum salary or a little more if the team is generous. Once a player has three years of major league service time, he is eligible for arbitration and his salary rises more quickly. At the end of six years, the player becomes a free agent and the team loses the rights to that player.
The Mariners are trading away three players with a total of nine years remaining of team control for three players with 17 years remaining of team control.
The Players the Mariners Gave Up:
2015: .225 AVG, .302 OBP, .383 SLG, -0.2 WAR
Career: .246 AVG, .326 OBP, .416 SLG, 1.7 WAR in six seasons (0.3 WAR per season)
Not only was he below average at hitting last season, he was also below average in the field, and has always been below average in the field. He’s not a good enough hitter to play first base and his fielding actually hurts rather than helps. Losing Logan Morrison is nothing to be concerned about.
The added benefit of getting rid of Morrison is that Mark Trumbo can move to first base and out of the outfield. Trumbo is a bad-fielding outfielder but has been fine at first base in his career.
Miller has been worth 1.8, 1.6, and 0.9 WAR over the last three years, while playing 76, 123, and 144 games. That’s not a good trend. WAR is a cumulative statistic, so a player should produce more WAR with more playing time. Miller has done the opposite. He wasn’t that bad with the bat last year, finishing with a 105 wRC+, meaning he was 5% better than league average as a hitter when league and ballpark are taken into account. On defense, he graded out okay at shortstop but the Mariners moved him to the outfield when they brought up Ketel Marte at the end of July. Miller was a out of place in the outfield and proved to be really bad out there.
This trade signals that the Mariners are committing to Marte at shortstop. Miller isn’t going to play second or third because Cano and Seager have those spots locked up. He hit well for a shortstop, but the bar is set higher for outfielders and the team has enough bad-fielding outfielders already. Miller is more valuable playing shortstop, which is likely where the Rays will play him, but the Mariners seem to like Marte there, so Miller is expendable.
2015: .258/.329/.402, 0.9 WAR
Career: .248/.313/.394, 4.3 WAR in three seasons (1.4 WAR/season)
Farquhar had good underlying numbers in 2013 and 2014 when he struck out 12.8 and 10.3 batters per nine and had a 1.86 FIP and a 2.86 FIP. In 2013, he was worth 1.8 WAR according to Fangraphs. In 2014, he dropped to 0.8 WAR. Last year, his strikeout rate dropped to 8.5 K/9 and his FIP went up to 4.60, as he allowed 9 homers in 51 innings. He was worth -0.2 WAR.
According to Pitch f/x, Farquhar’s fastball has dropped from a career-best 94.6 mph in 2013 to 93.4 in 2014 to 92.6 last year. He’ll be 29 years old in 2016 and it’s likely that his velocity is not coming back. He’s a dime-a-dozen middle reliever at this point in his career.
The Players the Mariners Are Acquiring:
In 171 career innings, Karns has struck out 8.9 batters per nine innings, which is good for a starting pitcher. His walk rate (3.5 BB/9) is high and he’s allowed way too many home runs (1.4 HR/9). Pitching in Safeco Field should help with the home run problem. He’s a good bet to be part of the Mariners’ starting rotation in 2016.
2015: 147 IP, 8.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9, 3.67 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 1.5 WAR
The Mariners used eight different players in center field last season, but now the three with the most playing time there are gone (Austin Jackson, Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley). Of those eight players, only Austin Jackson was above average on defense and the just-traded Brad Miller was the worst of the bunch. Powell doesn’t have much power but if he can provide good defense and on-base ability, he’ll be an asset to the team.
Career Minor League Stats: .308 AVG, .401 OBP, .387 SLG
The players coming over in the deal should help the Mariners in the future. Karns could be a league average starter as soon as next season. Riefenhauser may never be more than a situational lefty and he might not even be that, but he’s worth a flier. The big hope in this trade is that Boog Powell can become a regular in center field and help the team on defense with a good ability to get on base. Overall, I like this trade.