Unlike some recent seasons, the Seattle Mariners didn't have a lot of high quality pieces to deal this deadline, but General Manager Jack Zduriencik still managed to ship off two relievers for some younger talent that could help the big league club improve in relatively short order.
The first move announced by the club was the deal with tonight's opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays, in which Seattle sent former school teacher Steve Delabar, 29, north of the border in exchange for left-handed hitting outfielder Eric Thames, 25.
Delabar had been up and down this season with the M's, pitching in 34 games at the big league level and nine at Triple-A Tacoma. Delabar showed huge improvement in his control and a little improvement in his fastball command this year, but his lack of a breaking pitch led to a propensity to surrender the long ball -- Delabar had allowed nine homers in his 36 2/3 MLB innings this year. He has a big fastball -- comfortably in the 94-96 range -- and a decent splitter or forkball, but he has tinkered with various breaking pitches without much success to this point. In order to be a more reliable option, Delabar will have to figure out a way to keep right-handers honest without cheating for the fastball.
Thames, a left-handed hitter that throws right-handed, was a 7th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2008 and broke onto the big league scene last year in Toronto by hitting 12 home runs. That followed up a huge 2010 minor league campaign for him in the Double-A Eastern League where he hit 27 home runs and drove in 104 to lead all Toronto minor leaguers. He has good bat speed and has hit .257/.306/.429 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in roughly a full season's worth of at bats in MLB over this season and last. He figures to replace Carlos Peguero or Trayvon Robinson on the Mariners roster and get the lion's share of at bats in left field versus right-handed pitching for Seattle for the near term, and as a player that debuted in 2009, the club has him for the rest of this season and two more pre-arbitration years before Thames could start to become an expensive option.
He likely isn't going to turn into a star, but he is definitely a better big league option than Peguero right now and he has the ability to play some defense, draw some walks, make enough contact and hit for enough extra base power to hold down the 4th or 5th outfielder spot on a good team without much improvement already. Thames' is currently hitting .330/.407/.528 in 54 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, has hit well on the road (.330/.393/.500) and has actually improved versus left-handers this year (.316/.404/.342 in 47 PA), too.
Brandon League, a free-agent-to-be who lost his closer role to Tom Wilhelmsen due to ineffectiveness back in May, is the bigger name leaving Seattle, but the two players coming back to the Mariners are lesser known assets than Thames as they are younger. Outfielder Leon Landry, 22, and right-handed reliever Logan Bawcom, 23, both started the 2012 season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga with Bawcom pitching for Double-A Chattanooga for most of the year.
Landry bats left and throws right and was a 3rd round selection by the Dodgers out of LSU back in 2010. He played well in the Cape Cod League and in the Pioneer League in his 201 pro debut, but his averaged slipped a hundred points last year (from .349 to .250) with his promotion to the Midwest League, rubbing a bit of the shine off of his prospect star. He is a legitimate defensive center fielder with good instincts and possesses good speed on the bases. He's rebounded from his rough 2011 nicely this year as he's hitting .328/.358/.559 in the hitter friendly California League with 49 extra base hits (t-1st in Cal League), including an MiLB-high 15 triples. And while the entire Cal League is pretty much hitter's paradise, Rancho's home park is among the fairest parks in the desert. Landry will stay in the California League but move to a much more fun park to hit in as he's being assigned to the High Desert Mavericks.
Bawcom is a 6-foot-2, 200 pound right-handed reliever with a straight over the top delivery and a fastball that works in the 91-93 range with a few more ticks in it at times. He has good arm side run at times with the pitch and compliments it with a sweeping slider. A 2010 draftee by the Dodgers, Bawcom has struck out just under 11 hitters-per-nine in his minor league career (173 Ks in 143 innings covering 107 relief appearances). He saved 27 games last year in 52 games and has 20 saves this season in 39 games. His control can be suspect but he repeats his delivery well, works quickly and is comfortable working in the late innings. Bawcom will stay in the Southern League and report to the Jackson Generals where he will likely step right in as their closer as they have lost both Stephen Pryor (who will likely be called up to Seattle tomorrow) and Carter Capps to promotions this year.
There likely isn't a superstar in this trio and all three players have some question marks on their games, but the Mariners got a little younger, a little deeper and a little better with these two trades.
And with another 13 hours before the trade deadline, they may not be done making moves.
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