Gallardo for Smith Fills Holes for All Involved
(photo via mlb.com)
The Seattle Mariners and GM Jerry Dipoto have had a very busy off-season in terms of making trades, and this week was no exception when the team acquired starter Yovani Gallardo from the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Seth Smith. On the surface, this trade serves both sides well as it will shore up areas of weakness. For Seattle, they get a veteran presence in their rotation while Baltimore gets a solid bat in the outfield should Mark Trumbo sign elsewhere.
Gallardo signed a two-year contract last offseason with the Orioles late into spring training but never really caught up with the rest of his teammates. The delay, along with injury, caused a decline in his numbers that have stayed fairly consistent throughout his career. The normally reliable right-hander was 6-8 with a 5.46 ERA in 118 innings over 23 starts last season, after throwing 180 innings or more in each of his prior seven seasons. His ERA had also only been above 3.84 once in his career, though his once stellar strikeout rate has dropped significantly.
So why does this acquisition look good for Seattle? With a full off-season and spring Gallardo can get into game shape much sooner than his sub-par 2016 campaign. Add in leaving a tough ballpark in Baltimore for a pitcher friendly one in Seattle and there is certainly bounce-back potential for the 30-year old. Gallardo allowed home runs and fly balls at career high rate last season, so moving to spacious Seattle should certainly help his ERA.
For the Orioles, time is running out in the Mark Trumbo sweepstakes and the team seems more than comfortable to let the home-run leader walk. Adding Smith gives them a veteran left-handed presence in a predominantly right-handed lineup who can slot into right field and platoon with Joey Rickard. The 34-year old hit .249 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs for the Mariners last year and is hoping to improve at hitter-friendly Camden Yards. He did fall off mightily in 2016, hitting .204 after the All-Star break, but maintained an average 90 points higher against right-handed pitching.
Baltimore had some rotation depth which made Gallardo expendable while Seattle’s acquisition of Jarrod Dyson pushed Smith out of their picture. While these moves won’t push either club over the top, they strengthen each club in the areas they needed as they prepare for a run at their respective divisions.