The Seattle Mariners made another move at the Winter Meetings this morning, acquiring 32 year old left-handed hitting first baseman Adam Lind from the Brewers for the relatively low cost of three low-level minor league, teenaged right-handed pitchers.
The club’s official press release of the move included this quote from Executive Vice President and General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto:
"Adam lengthens our line-up as a first baseman who gives us on-base percentage and power. First base was a spot we came here looking to fill, and we feel that Adam is a good fit for us."
The three arms leaving the system – Daniel Missaki, Freddy Peralta and Carlos Herrera – aren’t without promise, as all three were in the conversation for inclusion in our upcoming Top-50 prospects in the system, with Missaki checking in at number 42 on that list a year ago. But the fact that they don’t come from the upper levels of Seattle’s system, which is where they are the thinnest and where the big club will be needing help from in the coming seasons is obviously great news for the club and a testament to Dipoto keeping an eye on the future in this deal.
Missaki threw a no-hitter for Clinton this past year but shortly thereafter had his season cut short with an injury and underwent Tommy John surgery on May 12th. He also missed time in 2014 with a forearm injury. He touches 90 with his fastball and pitches with a soft cutter, slow curve and changeup. He has a lot of effort in his delivery for the velocity that comes out of it, but obviously the command hasn’t suffered because of that yet, and he repeats very well.
Peralta – who was signed by Seattle out of the Dominican in 2013 – pitched for the M’s in the AZL and had a strong season as a 19 year old, posting 10.6 SO/9 and a better than 8-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in 57 innings. He was showing a mid-90s fastball in fall instructs and repeats his delivery very well. Herrera – also out of the Dominican, but signed in July of 2014 – made his system debut in 2015, pitching to a 3.26 ERA in 14 starts with a 5.62 SO:BB ratio of his own. The slender (6-foot-2, 150 lbs) righty pitched this year at age 17 and I was told was reaching 93 with his fastball in fall instructs.
In getting Lind from Milwaukee, Seattle solved their biggest remaining obvious hole on the roster – first base – with a veteran bat that fits Dipoto’s stated goal of adding on-base ability while still having some of that power that the position needs. He is a career .274/.332/.466 hitter in 4,298 plate appearances with an even more impressive split of .293/.354/.509 versus right-handed pitching, including five years in which he’s clubbed 20 or more home runs against righties. He posted a career-best 11.5% walk rate in 2015 and has struck out just a 16.6% rate the past two years. He received MVP votes and won a Silver Slugger with Toronto back in 2009 after turning in a 35 homer, 114 RBI campaign and hasn’t lived up to that season since, but the primary reason for that is that he has started to be more of a platoon bat, accumulating only 322 at bats in the last four years against left-handers. Lind has played some outfield in his career, but his strength defensively at first base is that he has nice hands (and is left-handed). His fWAR has been 1.6, 1.5 and 2.2 over the past three seasons, easily making him worthy of his $8m contract for the upcoming season.
Lind’s struggled versus lefties likely mean that Jesus Montero will enter 2016 with one more shot to prove himself as a big league hitter and first baseman as the other side of the platoon mix likely to evolve at the position. The 26 year old Montero, of course, lost a lot of weight prior to 2015 and worked through other personal struggles before turning in an All-Star season at the Triple-A level and earning his most extensive big league action since 2012, hitting .223/.250/.411 in 116 plate appearances. He is out of options, too, which means if he doesn’t make the Mariners’ roster then he would likely be lost to another club.
With Lind in the mix, relief help and perhaps some starting pitching depth are about all that is left for the Mariners to add, and while not all of that is likely to come this week, it is reasonable that the club will remain active as the Winter Meetings wind down.
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