Dipoto Lands Gallardo for Smith
had been on radio silence for nearly a month, but busted through the looking glass, completing 2 deals today. In the first, he sent Team Dad Seth Smith to the Orioles for Yovani Gallardo. Just a few hours later, Dipoto replaced Smith with Jarrod Dyson, but more on that later. For now, lets break down Yovani Gallardo and the trade that sent him here.
The Player- Yovani Gallard is a 31 year old RHP who has spent time with the Brewers, Rangers and Orioles. 2016 was Gallardo's worst season, posting a 5.42 ERA while walking 4.5 per nine innings. He was barely over replacement value, garnering just a 0.6 fWAR.
However; Gallardo has a long track record of success. In fact, from 2009-2015, his fWAR never fell below 2.0 and his ERA never went above 4.18. He is no longer strike out pitcher, averaging under 7 k/9, but he is still an extreme groundball pitcher. He has never had a GB rate lower than 43% and averaged a 49.3% grounball rate from 2012-2015.
Gallardo also has a track record of being available, something the other candidates within the Mariners Farm System do not. From 2009-2015, he never threw fewer than 180 innings and never made fewer than 30 starts. The one achilles heel for Gallardo is his propensity to give up the long ball. In the past 7 seasons, he has only had a HR% lower than 10% twice.
There are no two ways around it, Gallardo's 2016 was bad. But the rest of the track appears to be exactly what Jerry Dipoto has been searching for. Reliable, above average innings with tons of groundballs and a hope that moving to Seattle will limit his HR issue.
While he may give up some homeruns, Gallardo is known to hit some dingers.
The Fit- Gallardo likely slides into the number 4 slot in the rotation, behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and James Paxton. The hope is that his HR rate falls now that he is pitching in the spacieous Safeco Field, and his high groundball rate plays into the solid infield defense of the Seattle Mariners.
The Cost- You probably won't find a Mariners fan who isn't a little bummed about losing Seth Smith. You also probably wouldn't find an honest Mariner fan who thinks Smith was a good fit. Smith's age and inability to play the field and run the bases made him an extra piece for the M's.
Gallardo will make $11 million this season, and with the Orioles pitching in roughly $3 million, the Mariners will add $1 million to its payroll. If Gallardo pitches well, the Mariners can exercise a team option at just $12 million. With the current state of pitching in free agency, spending an extra $1 million on a quality #4 type pitcher makes a lot of sense.
The Verdict- I don't love this deal. Gallardo is a scary proposition, despite his solid track record. Losing Smith sucks, although his replacement(I promise we will get to it later) eases that pain. If Gallardo can return to his 2015 form, this deal could be a huge coup to the Mariners.
I still believe Dipoto needs to add another veteran starter, and I believe he will. Gallardo is a necessary step if the Mariners want any chance to play in the 2017.