One of those prospects the Mariners got in the Lee deal faced rape charges last year

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Josh Leuke — one of the pitchers acquired by the Mariners in the Cliff Lee deal —  faced rape and sodomy charges in California last summer. He later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of false imprisonment with
violence. Lueke was sentenced to 40 days in prison but was released immediately thereafter for time served.

That’s bad. Also bad: not everyone on the Mariners seemed to realize this at the time of the trade. The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker:

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said he was “not aware” beforehand
that a Class AA pitcher obtained in the Cliff Lee deal pleaded no
contest last year to a charge of false imprisonment with violence
against a woman.

“I was not aware of that before we acquired him,” Armstrong said.
“And it is going to be addressed.”

Team CEO Howard Lincoln didn’t know either.  General Manager Jack Zduriencik said he did know about it, but on Friday mistakenly said that Leuke had been “cleared,” which is not true, meaning that Jack Z either didn’t really know everything or else he was trying to gloss it over. Either way, he said he asked the Rangers if they thought Lueke was anything to be concerned about moving forward and was satisfied with their answer.

Still, how you don’t bring higher ups into the loop on this kind of thing beforehand is a mystery to me. It’s just as much a mystery to me why — regardless of Zduriencik’s responsibility to keep his bosses informed — they didn’t know it independently. Google Lueke and the case turns up pretty prominently (there are even pics of him in prison scrubs out there for crying out loud).  Look at his stats from last year and you see that he pitched only four games. Even if you didn’t know about the criminal charges, don’t you look at that and ask if the guy had Tommy John surgery or something?

Geoff Baker is going to town on this. And rightfully so, in my mind.  As he notes today, the Mariners have been out front in the community supporting groups and initiatives aimed at putting a stop to violence against women. This has led to a zero-tolerance policy on the part of the team which has in turn led to players being sent out of town on a rail before.  Now the team trades for a guy who pleaded guilty to a charge which involved violence against a woman.

Reasonable people can disagree how much Lueke should be punished within his profession for his criminal transgressions.  Reasonable people can’t disagree, however, that the Mariners either didn’t do their homework or simply didn’t care about Lueke’s background when they made the deal. My guess is that Zduriencik is in some hot water with his
bosses over all of this, and as I sit here right now, I think it’s pretty justified.

Tampa Bay Rays trade Alex Colome, Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners

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The Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. The Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, and are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West, will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base. If the M’s make the playoffs he’d likely do so in the postseason too, given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension.

Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings.Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.

Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.

The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.