Yankees do it again, add Ichiro
As Max Warner argued here on May 13th, trading Ichiro is the right move for the Seattle Mariners and accelerates their rebuild.
It would appear the Mariners are receiving two minor league pitchers in the deal, along with cash. The Pitchers are D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquar.
Mitchell is a 25 year old starter who has pitched in 4 games for the Yankees. Over the last three years in AAA, he has a combined 3.81 ERA
Farquhar was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and was included in a trade to Oakland that brought Rajai Davis to Toronto. He was then traded back to the Blue Jays for David Purcey, and then selected off waivers by Oakland from the Blue Jays. The Yankees used the waiver wire to acquire him from the A’s.
Farquhar has pitched in 3 major league games for the Blue Jays in 2011. He has a 4.65 ERA in two seasons in Triple A.
Last Word Baseball Analyst Max Warner checks in: This move is more about financial flexibility for Seattle going forward than anything else. Over two months ago, I wrote that Seattle needed to trade Ichiro immediately before his star power declined any further. Unfortunately, Seattle waited too long to trade Ichiro, and his play continued to decline sharply as the 2012 season has gone on. Ichiro is batting just .261, with a .641 OPS and only 15 stolen bases, and Seattle was not able to get much in return for one of the greatest Mariners of all time. D.J. Mitchell is a right-handed starting pitcher who has pitched for the Yankees’ AAA affiliate for most of the past three seasons. Mitchell’s upside is as a fifth starter or a long reliever. Mitchell has averaged nearly 7 strikeouts per nine innings in over 250 innings of AAA pitching, but as his 1.35 WHIP in AAA indicates, he surrenders too many hits and walks. At 25, Mitchell may have a year or two of development left, and pitching in Seattle’s Safeco Field will certainly help his stats a little, but he is far too hittable to be anything more than back-of-the-rotation filler in the Majors. Aside from Felix Hernandez, the Mariners don’t have any decent starters, so Mitchell will be given every chance to make the Seattle rotation.
Danny Farquhar is a small (5’9”), 25 year old reliever who has pitched in the minors for three different organizations for almost his entire career. His Triple-A stats are very mediocre: a career 4.65 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 7.6 K’s per nine innings. Farquhar will be fighting to make Major League rosters for the rest of his career, and he offers little more than injury insurance for Seattle’s bullpen.
The Mariners also got an undisclosed amount of cash in the deal, and are off the hook for the balance owing on Ichiro’s $18 million salary this year. These financial savings should help last place Seattle offset some of the lost revenue from decreased attendance and Ichiro memorabilia sales, which will almost certainly result from this trade.
Ichiro gives the Yankees a table-setter for the top of their lineup, who can bat second after Derek Jeter, which will allow Curtis Granderson to move down in the order to provide more protection for Mark Texeira and Robinson Cano. Ichiro’s contact hitting and speed on the bases will allow him to score plenty of runs on hits by the big bats of the Pinstripes. The small confines of Yankee Stadium should also help reduce the impact of Ichiro’s decreased range in the field; it remains to be seen if Nick Swisher will remain in right field or shift to left field to make room for Ichiro. In return, Ichiro gets a chance to play for a World Series contender, and his star gets to shine on the biggest baseball stage in the world.
This is a very difficult day for Seattle fans, as the Mariners are 13 games under .500, have almost no hope of making the playoffs this year, and have lost one the best, most popular players in their history in exchange for two low-end minor league players. Although the Mariners finally appear to be committed to a rebuild, the crowds at Safeco are going to be very, very small in August and September.
… And thats the last word.