Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners shift gears in rotation by acquiring Gallardo before dealing Karns

The Mariners got their man Friday when they acquired veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo in a trade from Baltimore.
The Mariners got their man Friday when they acquired veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo in a trade from Baltimore. AP

The Mariners made their much-anticipated move Friday to acquire a veteran starting pitcher when they obtained right-hander Yovani Gallardo from the Baltimore Orioles in a trade for outfielder Seth Smith.

"Gallardo gives us the veteran presence that we have been searching for," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He has a track record of durability and success as a starting pitcher.

"After examining the free agent and trade market, Yovani is the best fit for our club as we move forward this off-season."

Who knew then it was just the start?

Just a few hours later, the Mariners traded a starting pitcher, Nathan Karns, to Kansas City to get an outfielder: Jarrod Dyson.

"Effectively, today we made a four-player swap," Dipoto said. "It did not change our dynamic in terms of payroll distribution a great deal. We still have the capacity to be creative in looking to add."

The Mariners had searched for a veteran starter since a Nov. 23 trade sent right-hander Taijuan Walker to Arizona along with shortstop Ketel Marte in a deal for shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and lefty reliever Zac Curtis.

Friday’s moves seemingly still leave the Mariners in need of a starting pitcher, but Dipoto said in-house candidates provide a sufficient pool to determine a fifth starter behind Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma and Gallardo.

Dipoto cited Ariel Miranda and Chris Heston and Rob Whalen as possibilities along with "rising young players" such as Max Povse, Andrew Moore and Ryan Yarbrough.

"I don’t envision adding a Cy Young contender," Dipoto said, "but we always looking for ways to get deeper and a little more versatile."

The Mariners also received cash in the first deal, presumably to help bridge the difference in salaries. Gallardo will make $11 million this season, and his contract contains a club option for 2018 at $13 million with a $2 million buyout clause.

Smith will make $7 million this season before becoming a free agent.

The Mariners are betting Gallardo, 30, will bounce back from an injury-interrupted season that saw him go 6-8 for the Orioles with a 5.42 ERA in 23 starts.

Gallardo missed nearly two months — April 23 to June 18 — because of tendinitis in the biceps of his right shoulder after making at least 30 starts in each of his six previous seasons.

"Last year wasn’t fun for me," he said. "It didn’t start off the right way. Showing up for spring training late after signing late. Getting started a little bit later than normal, then having that injury."

Gallardo was a free agent last year who didn’t sign with the Orioles until Feb. 25 — after rejecting a qualifying offer from Texas — and he suggested the late start led to his injury and his disappointing season.

"I don’t want to make excuses," he said, "but the No. 1 thing is being healthy. When you’re not healthy, command is the first thing (affected). It was just frustrating."

Gallardo is a 10-year veteran who is 108-83 with a 3.79 ERA in 270 career games, including 267 starts.

"Last year," Dipoto said, "he went through his worst year as a big leaguer (after) coming off a string of not missing a start dating back to 2007. This guy was good for 190-plus innings, 12 or 13 wins and a 3.50 or better ERA like clockwork.

"The ballpark (Safeco Field) should be a better fit for him…Yovani has transitioned into more of a fly-ball than ground-ball guy, and I feel our outfield defense can certainly enhance him as well."

Gallardo said his injury concerns are behind him.

"I feel great," he said. "I started my throwing program two or three weeks ago. I’m going every other day or every third day. It’s my normal off-season program, and I’m doing everything that I can do to prepare myself."

The Mariners, in acquiring Dyson, quickly addressed the hole created by trading Smith, who batted .249 last season with 16 homers and a career-high 63 RBIs in 137 games.

Gallardo said he hasn’t decided whether to pitch this spring for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

"I had an opportunity to pitch in the last one," he said. "It was a great experience but, obviously, with the trade now and going over to Seattle, I’ll have to think about it and see how I feel once I show up in spring training."

Gallardo spent eight years at Milwaukee before a Jan. 19, 2015 trade sent him to Texas, where he was 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts prior to signing with the Orioles.

His only two career starts at Safeco Field came in 2015 while pitching for the Rangers. He won both game and didn’t allow a run in 11 innings.

"It’s always nice to pitch in ballparks that are pitcher-friendly," he said. "It may be a little bit of an advantage for a pitcher, but the No. 1 thing is going out there and performing no matter what ballpark it is."

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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