The Mariners’ acquisition of Jack Wilson and Ian Snell from the Pirates for five players, including former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Clement, puzzled many.
In appearance, the trade makes Seattle look like a buyer, when at 7.5 back in the AL West and 6.5 back in the wild card, it might seem more prudent to be a seller.
But Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times thinks that the Mariners might have something else up their sleeve:
Here’s another reason why this move might have been made. We’ll know by Friday if it was the reason. And that is the idea that perhaps the Mariners now have another deal in the works, a much bigger one involving Washburn, where they can land a top young shortstop prospect.
One problem with this idea is that the market for Washburn seems to be shrinking. The Brewers’ recent fade may have convinced them to pull out of the market altogether. Same for the Rays. The Phillies, obviously, don’t need him.
That leaves who? The Yankees, perhaps. The Rangers? Not so likely seeing as how the teams are in the same division. The Red Sox? Maybe, if they fail to land Roy Halladay.
Also a possibility, as Buster Olney reports, is that the Mariners will hold onto Washburn and try to sign him to a contract extension, maybe the most likely scenario of all.
Let the head-scratching continue.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.
Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.
Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.
So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]
Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.
I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.
Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”
Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.
It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.