Rumors: Vazquez, Chapman, King Felix

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With the offseason just days away, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune is back with his latest batch of rumors to preheat the Hot Stove.

Among them, he floats Javier Vazquez
as a possible trade candidate now that Tim Hudson is expected to
finalize an extension with the Braves this week. Vazquez had one of the
most unsung seasons in the majors this season, going 15-10 with a 2.87
ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 238 strikeouts (2nd in the NL). The Braves are
looking to bolster an outfield that hit just .262/.329/.397 with a
measly .726 OPS (27th in MLB).

While I agree that the Braves should
sell-high on Vazquez, where Rogers loses me is when he names Seattle as
a potential destination for Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman. His
logic? The Mariners are possibly hoping to acquire another front-line
arm before Felix Hernandez bolts for free agency after the 2011 season.

Listen, I’m well aware that
Hernandez, represented by Alan Nero, will almost certainly test the
open market, most likely landing in New York or Boston; it’s a sad
reality of our game. However, if there was any time to make a major financial commitment to a pitcher — Chapman is rumored to be asking for $40-60
million —
King Felix is the one. Nevermind the fact that the Mariners have almost
no chance of landing the 21-year-old Chapman.

If they’re really thinking about life after King Felix, they might as well trade him for Clay Buchholz right now.

Mariners sign Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal

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The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.

This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.

The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.