Seattle Mariners: Can Drew Smyly Help the Rotation?

May 10, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Seattle Mariners have reportedly discussed trading for Drew Smyly, but would the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher be an acceptable addition to the starting rotation?

As we enter the New Year, Seattle Mariners fans are optimistic the longest postseason drought in the Majors will finally come to an end. However, if this hope is to turn into reality, the team still has certain aspects to fix.

This includes the need for another starting pitcher, especially after trading away Taijuan Walker. Not that general manager Jerry Dipoto haven’t been trying to find one – it’s just that the need is becoming more pressing, with spring training fast approaching.

The Mariners have been linked to several possibilities of late, including Dan Straily, Doug Fister and Drew Pomeranz. in this respect, the most recent speculation centers around Drew Smyly.

We already knew the Mariners had been in talks with the Tampa Bay Rays about their rotation during the Winter Meetings. However, what we didn’t know, was which specific pitcher or pitchers were in the conversation, until Ryan Divish’s recent report.

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The Seattle Times‘ reporter confirmed that Smyly was viewed as the best potential match for the Mariners. The main reason for this is because they realistically don’t have the prospect depth to obtain Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi.

The question is, even though Smyly is not on the same level as Archer or Odorizzi, is he still worth making a move for? It essentially come down to perception and priorities.

For example, if you’re simply looking for a workhorse, he is an option, after coming off a career-high 30 starts and 175.1 innings. At 27-years old, he’s in his prime and certainly has the chance to replicate this production.

However, when talking about this production, you have to consider the results. In that respect, Smyly recorded a very uninspiring 7-12 record and career-high 4.88 ERA in 2016.

Even this isn’t clear cut though, when you break down the 2010 second round draft pick’s statistics further. When you consider he had a 167/49 K/BB ratio in his 175.1 innings, his ERA really should have been much better. (The 167 strikeouts were also a career-best.)

And while we’re on the subject of Smyly’s ERA, even with his 2016 figure, his career average is still 3.74. For perspective, consider that this is a lower ERA than any of the Mariners’ regular starting rotation managed last season.

If we look at the Maumelle, Arkansas native’s pitching repertoire, his main weapon is his fourseam fastball, which averages 91 mph. It generates more swings than the average pitcher’s fourseamer and has a good rising action, which results in a higher than usual number of flyballs.

Seattle Mariners
Jul 30, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) looks on during the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

However, this does not mean Smyly is a one-trick pony. He often uses his 76 mph curve, while sometimes mixing in a 85 mph cutter.

Turning to the former Detroit Tigers‘ contract situation, he has two year of arbitration eligibility remaining before becoming a free agent in 2019. He is projected to make $6.8 million in 2017.

Of course, the final factor to consider is what it would cost to obtain Smyly. Divish writes that the best high-level prospects the Mariners have, are Tyler O’Neill and Kyle Lewis.

Both are considered foundation-level pieces, which leads you to wonder if either of them are worth giving up? What is the balance between helping yourself right away and potentially hurting the franchise long-term?

Overall, most of the available information leads you to believe Smyly would be worth making a move for. However, the main reason the trade will likely not happen, arguably comes down to what the Mariners would have to give up for him.

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What’s your opinion regarding Smyly? Taking all the available information into account, would you accept trading for him or are you against such a move, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section.