Seattle Mariners

Mariners acquire lefty Marco Gonzales from Cardinals for outfielder Tyler O’Neill

The Mariners acquired lefty Marco Gonzales from St. Louis on Friday in a trade for outfielder Tyler O’Neill.
The Mariners acquired lefty Marco Gonzales from St. Louis on Friday in a trade for outfielder Tyler O’Neill. AP

The Mariners’ search for an under-the-radar starting pitcher culminated Friday when they acquired left-hander Marco Gonzales from the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade for minor-league outfielder Tyler O’Neill.

Gonzales, 25, is 4-2 with a 5.53 ERA over parts of three major-league seasons but was currently pitching at Triple-A Memphis, where he was 6-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 11 starts.

"Marco is a quality athlete with high character and a strong pitching pedigree who we feel fits our roster well in both the near and long term," general manager Jerry Dipoto said.

"We find his current performance, preparedness and proximity to the major leagues to be very appealing traits in a pitcher, particularly a young lefty who is now under club control through the 2023 season."

Gonzales will report to Triple-A Tacoma and comes with an injury history.

He missed part of the 2015 season after suffering a severe left pectoral injury, and he missed all of last season after undergoing ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow in April.

O’Neill, 22, began the season ranked as the organization’s No. 2 prospect in the TNT Top 10. He is batting 244 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs in 93 games at Triple-A Tacoma but batted .326 in his last 24 games with 13 homers and 30 RBIs.

The Mariners viewed O’Neill as expendable because of the emergence this season of rookies Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia at the big-league level.

Gonzales provides a potential long-term fix for the Mariners. He won’t be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2020 season and is controllable through 2023, but he will be out of options after this season.

A Seattle resident, Gonzales attended Gonzaga and was drafted by the Cardinals with the 19th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Friday watchpoints:

***The Mariners’ four-game series against the New York Yankees continues at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Andrew Moore (1-1 with a 5.25 ERA) will face Yankees veteran lefty CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54).

***Moore will be making his fifth big-league start and has never faced the Yankees. Sabathia is 13-6 with a 2.64 ERA in 26 career starts against the Mariners, including 9-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 13 starts at Safeco Field.

***Danny Valencia is 8-for-30 in his career against Sabathia, while Nelson Cruz is 7-for-28 and Robinson Cano is 5-for-18. But Kyle Seager is just 2-for-19, and Chooch Ruiz is 2-for-15. No other Mariner has more then eight career plate appearances against Sabathia.

***Cano went 3-for-5 in Thursday’s series opener and is 26-for-76 (.342) in 19 career games against his former club.

***Then Yankees are 12-4 against the Mariners since June 10, 2014, including 9-1 at Safeco Field. The clubs also play Aug. 25-27 at Yankee Stadium.

***Cruz and Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge rank one-two in the American League in RBIs with 74 and 68. Judge leads the league with 30 homers and with a 1.076 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).

***Jean Segura is batting .344, which ranks second in the league to Houston’s Jose Altuve (.353). Ben Gamel is fifth at .317.

***Jarrod Dyson ranks second in the league with 22 stolen bases. The leader is Angels outfielder Cameron Maybin with 25.

TIME CAPSULE

It was 29 years ago Friday — July 21, 1998 — that the Mariners acquired outfielder Jay Buhner along with minor-league pitchers Rick Balabon and Troy Evers from the New York Yankees in exchange for designated hitter Ken Phelps.

Buhner, now 52, spent 14 years with the Mariners and ranks third on the franchise’s all-time list in homers, RBIs and extra-base hits.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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