The Seattle Mariners completed a trade this morning, acquiring outfielder Chris Denorfia from the San Diego Padres for two minor leaguers. Denorfia, 34 and a free agent at the end of the season, will travel to Baltimore to meet his new club Friday. After four straight strong seasons for the Padres, Denorfia is hitting .242/.293/.319 in 268 plate appearances this season for San Diego.
While those numbers may not look like much of an upgrade, the M's are adding to one of their most obvious areas of weakness with this deal. Seattle's outfield is hitting .246/.287/.346 against left-handed pitching this season and the right-handed hitting Denorfia owns a career mark of .301/.367/.443 in 858 big league plate appearances against lefties. While he's hitting only .253/.311/.326 against them this year, Denorfia has posted an OPS of .834 or better against southpaws in each of the last three seasons.
While he certainly didn't come for free, the cost to acquire Denorfia -- who also isn't viewed as a "big get" in the grand scheme of things -- was just two players off of the Tacoma Rainiers roster: outfielder Abraham Almonte and reliever Stephen Kohlscheen.
Almonte started the season as Seattle's center fielder and leadoff hitter, but after struggling to a .198/.248/.292 line with an MLB-high 40 strikeouts through the first 27 games of the season, he was demoted to Tacoma. Back in Triple-A -- where he hit .314/.403/.491 in 94 games in 2013 -- the switch-hitter was hitting .267/.333/.390 in 312 plate appearances this season. But after a slow start with Tacoma he had come on of late, managing a .303/.380/.461 slash in 206 PAs since June 1st and collecting multiple hits in 12 of his last 29 games.
Kohlscheen, who came into the system as a 45th round pick out of Auburn, has been with Tacoma for the last six weeks after opening the year in Double-A Jackson. The 6-foot-6 right-handed reliever has combined to post a 2.70 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 56 2/3 innings this season between the two stops, striking out 55 while walking only 10. Since converting to the bullpen full time prior to 2012, the 25-year-old has a 2.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 10.8 SO/9 rate. His fastball can reach the mid-90s and he pairs that with a slider that has good tilt.
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