July 25, 2014
"Relievers are so interchangeable! Not Pryor, though," read his comment in Baseball Prospectus 2013, "Pryor is going to be a cut above the rest." It turned out the only sentence about last season that includes Pryor and "a cut above" goes something like this: Pryor missed most of the year due to injury, then underwent surgery in August, during which doctors made a cut above his shoulder. He's since returned stripped of his plus-plus velocity, and wearing his location woes more so than ever. As a result, Pryor is no sure thing to pitch near the end of big-league game—or at any point during big-league games, for that matter.
Still, Terry Ryan should feel no shame. He knew when he signed Morales, back in June, that a deadline trade was the most-likely outcome. What he didn't know is whether Morales would mash for a few weeks, creating a demand for his services, or get mashed, leaving the Twins to take what they could get. Morales was on the receiving end of the mashing, and so Ryan did what he could. Yes, the Twins paid some $3 million over 39 games for what amounts to a project reliever. So what? The Cubs gave Jose Veras $4 million to disappear after 12 games; the Astros handed Jesse Crain more than $3 million in the offseason, and he hasn't thrown a pitch yet. Comparatively, Ryan didn't pull off a heist, but he did better than the minimum. - R.J. Anderson
It's going to be very strange to see all of these power arms in Minnesota, isn't it? Outside of the visual shock of Pryor in a Twins' uniform, nothing changes with his value.
Deep leaguers, unite. Parmelee was likely to lose playing time when Joe Mauer returned, but with the DH spot now wide open, he has a good chance to play there against right-handed pitching. —Bret Sayre
Acquired DH-S Kendrys Morales from the Twins in exchange for RHP Stephen Pryor. [7/24]
On Wednesday, Dave Dombrowski made a trade to brace the bullpen he spent all winter building. On Thursday, Jack Zduriencik did the same, except with his version of Dombrowski's bullpen: the DH spot. The Mariners, a team that seemed, following the acquisitions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, to have too many one-dimensional hitters, don't had any who have produced this season. In fact, the M's have only two healthy, above-average hitters to speak of, in Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, and those guys play important defensive positions. That the rumor mill has tied Zduriencik to everyone from Dayan Viciedo and Marlon Byrd to Ben Zobrist and Drew Stubbs is no surprise then. The M's need help all over, preferably from versatile types who could help buttress multiple positions. Naturally, Zduriencik's first deadline addition is an inflexible slugger in the midst of a poor year.
The funniest part about this trade is the Mariners never wanted Morales to leave in the first place. When Zduriencik extended the qualifying offer to Morales, he might have figured he'd accept it. When Zduriencik made numerous attempts afterward to bring Morales back, he probably figured he'd accept those, too. Morales passed on them all. The easy explanation—that the money and years weren't right—is the most likely. But if there is something more to it, and Morales, for whatever reason, dislikes Seattle, then you hope he can put those feelings behind him in order to chase the postseason.
Of course, happy or otherwise, Morales doesn't have to do a lot to be considered an upgrade. Neither Hart, Morrison, nor Justin Smoak has hit, and the Mariners seem uninterested in giving Jesus Montero an extended look. Morales had issues of his own with Minnesota, as he struggled to make quality contact and drew fewer walks than usual. Perhaps those struggles were due to him missing spring training—after all, Stephen Drew isn't hitting, either—but they'll need to be rectified and soon. Otherwise, Morales is a net negative.
The good news then is that Zduriencik didn't give up much. Pryor's injury and subsequent struggles buried him on the organizational depth chart. Besides, the M's current relievers have done a good enough job that some depth can be sacrificed for a potential offensive improvement. Seattle might not feel like a playoff team—not with one of the AL's worst offenses—yet they're in the thick of the race, and, by our odds, have better than a one-third shot at making the tournament. It might not be ideal to have to face the Angels in a one-game playoff, wherein the M's have essentially a 50/50 shot at advancing, but it beats the alternative of sitting at home. And so expect Zduriencik to weigh other moves over the next week, and don't be shocked if he finds one just. —R.J. Anderson
All of the cliches out there already. "He's coming back home," you say. "He will try to reclaim some of his 2013 magic," you type. Well, I cry bunk on this one. Morales had plenty of opportunities to re-sign with the Mariners and didn't take it--now he gets shipped there with no say in the matter. When you take the intangible stuff out, it's a pitchers' park for pitchers' park exchange and both the Twins and Mariners have low-end offenses, so there shouldn't be much of a gain/loss there. All in all, it's not going to change his fantasy outlook, which remains bleak for a first baseman.
Sometimes it seems like the only reason the Seattle Mariners exist is to keep Jesus Montero down. Since being sent back to Tacoma about four weeks ago, Montero has hit .420/.460/.778 with seven homers and 29 RBI. Who needs that when you can just bring in the guy with a .584 OPS? —Bret Sayre
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @r_j_anderson