Seattle Mariners

Mariners re-acquire Roenis Elias from Red Sox. Now a reliever, the plan is to return him to starting

Boston Red Sox's Roenis Elias pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning of a spring baseball exhibition game, Monday,March 12, 2018, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Boston Red Sox's Roenis Elias pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning of a spring baseball exhibition game, Monday,March 12, 2018, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Roenis Elias is back with the Seattle Mariners.

Actually he’ll be with Triple-A Tacoma – for now.

The Mariners announced Monday morning that they had finalized a trade with the Red Sox to re-acquire the left-handed in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Elias provides the Mariners with depth and an intriguing option. Mariners manager Scott Servais, addressing reporters before Monday's game against the White Sox in Chicago, said the plan is to stretch Elias out so he can return to starting.

"I'm not in the loop on the whole thing," Servais said. "I know he's been here before. I think we were talking about maybe stretching him out and starting him at Tacoma. We'll see what happens.

"He could create some depth for us as we need it going into the season."

Lately he’s been working out of the bullpen. In four appearances this year with Triple-A Pawtucket, Elias has pitched 7 1/3 innings with a 1.23 ERA and nine strikeouts.

He has been mostly in a long relief role. Elias pitched three innings out of the bullpen in his first appearance for Pawtucket, and he didn’t allow a hit while striking out four.

The 29-year-old from Guantanamo, Cuba, made his major league debut with the Mariners in 2014, when he went 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts.

The Mariners had only one pitcher make at least 29 starts last year, and that was Ariel Miranda.

In parts of four major league seasons with the Mariners and Red Sox, Elias is 15-21 with a 4.20 ERA.

The 5-foot-11, 197-pounder spent much of last year on the disabled list with the Red Sox. He had a right oblique strain, which eventually landed him on the 60-day disabled list.

If he works out, that’s a much-needed left-handed arm on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, which is now at 39 players.

They currently have lefties James Pazos, Marc Rzepczynski and Wade LeBlanc on the 25-man roster, with Dario Alvarez in Tacoma as the only other option on the 40-man.

Pazos looked much-improved when he threw 2 2/3 innings in the Mariners’ loss to Texas on Sunday, when he allowed one hit and now runs in that appearance. But Rzepcynski has struggled some as a left-handed specialist this year, allowing four runs in 3 2/3 innings in a span of eight total appearances.

Elias was originally signed by Seattle as a free agent in 2011. He was sent to Boston in December of 2015 in a trade with Carson Smith for pitchers Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro. Neither pitcher is still with the Mariners.

It came one day after the Mariners picked up right-hander Edwin Quezada from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for an international slot.

Quezada is a 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic and he spent 2017 pitching in the Dominican Summer League.

Dipoto on Heredia move

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and Servais knew they would have to be the ones answering to why the team decided to option Guillermo Heredia instead of making another move (ie, releasing Ichiro).

And Dipoto said it didn’t have anything to do with PR.

“Based on the reaction, if it was about PR we probably would have done it the other way,” Dipoto told MLB.com.

They said it had to do with upcoming pitching matchups. The Mariners were scheduled to face right-handed starting pitchers each of the next 10 days, which leaves little room for Heredia’s right-handed bat to start.

Heredia can’t be recalled, barring a player moving to the disabled list, for at least 10 days.

“We won’t see another left-hander for 10 days. That’s Guillermo’s niche,” Dipoto said. “So he wouldn’t be playing much more than late-game defense. Our thought while navigating through this is to give Guillermo the chance to play regularly, and my assumption is he’ll be back in 10 days.”

But a lot of teams have left-handed relievers. The Mariners saw one Saturday, which led to them using Heredia as a pinch-hitter.

He beat out an infield single and scored the first run of the Mariners’ five-run rally.

“This was not an easy decision,” Dipoto said. “Guillermo is a big part of what we do. We anticipate him being with us throughout the season.”

The Mariners had to make a corresponding move on Sunday because they activated right-hander Erasmo Ramirez off the disabled list, and they needed a fifth starter.

And apparently Heredia handled it well, Servais said.

“G is a pro,” Servais said. “He understands and he’s about one thing and that’s helping the Mariners win. You see it in how he plays every day and certainly his actions in the clubhouse and handling discussions like this. Absolutely professional and he knows he will be back very, very soon.”

On tap

The Mariners will start left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-2, 5.94 ERA) in the 2:10 p.m. game on Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. The White Sox had not announced a starter for the game.

The game will televise on Root Sports and broadcast on 710-AM radio.

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
@TJCotterill
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