Mariners Trade RHP Emilio Pagan for 1B Ryon Healy

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 14: Ryon Healy /

The Mariners made an early surprise move this week by trading right-handed reliever Emilio Pagan to Oakland for 25-year-old first baseman Ryon Healy.

Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto also tossed in 17-year-old infielder prospect Alexander Campos to complete the deal with the A’s.

The move is a surprise because it sent away a multi-inning relief man in Dipoto’s developing “wolf pack” of pitchers he’s trying to assemble. After the season ended, Dipoto mentioned that he plans on getting enough arms for the bullpen to allow some starters to only go four or five innings.

Pagan was 2-3 with a 3.22 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 50.1 innings last year. Before the trade, he figured to be in the mix for serious work out of Scott Servais‘ bullpen in 2018. But the Mariners needed a first baseman, and Dipoto has already indicated to the Seattle Times that they have acquired their starter for next year:

"This has been something we’ve talked with Oakland about dating back to the last week of October. This has been in the works for over a month now. For us to put a first baseman in place after going year to year for such a long time, we’re hopeful that Ryon can step in and solve a good deal of that problem. He’s a good offensive player and gives us that right-handed-power element. One of the things we joked about internally is that this keeps him from doing damage against us, which probably makes us a better team."

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Healy slashed .271/.302/.451 last year for Oakland in 149 games. He hit 29 doubles and 25 home runs, with 66 runs scored. That low OBP is due to Healy’s aversion to taking his walks, a far different approach than, say, Indians slugger Carlos Santana, who was said to be courted by Seattle. Still, Healy is only 25, he’s under club control until 2022, and at his current league-minimum salary until 2020, when he’ll be eligible for arbitration.

There are several dominoes that will fall, if they haven’t already, due to Healy’s acquisition. First, it appears all major free agent options for the Mariners at first base can be scrapped. Second, Danny Valencia and Yonder Alonso are likely long gone. Third, Dan Vogelbach, who hit minor league pitching just fine last season but struggled in the majors, will either be a quad-A backup in 2018 or be shipped off himself.

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Getting Healy to be the everyday first baseman ticks off a position of need for Dipoto at a bargain. Now he can use that cash to make a run at re-signing Jarrod Dyson or adding Dyson’s former teammate Lorenzo Cain from the Royals. Maybe, just maybe, Dipoto can pony up for Yu Darvish or Shohei Otani*. Or, Dipoto could make yet another unpredictable move to bolster his pitching staff and/or outfield. Who knows?

*In related news, the Mariners shipped 24-year-old right-hander Thyago Vieira to the White Sox for international slot money, meaning they have more to offer Otani if he indeed makes the jump to the MLB this offseason.