Jerry Dipoto’s pair of trades on Friday, Seth Smith for Yovani Gallardo and Nate Karns for Jarrod Dyson, was a sleight of hand movement intended to deceive the casual observer. This was actually one trade: Smith for Dyson. Dyson was the player the M’s wanted, the Royals insisted on pitching in return, but they couldn’t trade Karns without getting pitching. Dipoto had been shopping Smith, so Smith to the Orioles for Gallardo was a lateral move.
Let’s be clear, the Mariners have not improved their shaky pitching situation by trading for Gallardo. These are the guys likely to be in line for starting jobs-Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Ariel Miranda, Gallardo, Chris Heston, Rob Whalen. Of that list, the M’s would probably like to move Miranda to the bullpen as a second lefty.
That leaves four guys, including Gallardo, with Heston, Whalen and a host of lesser lights as depth in Tacoma. There’s room for one more.
Let’s be clear. Gallardo, 30, was not good this year. He was the number six guy on a terrible Orioles starting staff. He was injured for a considerable part of the year with shoulder problems and threw only 118.0 innings. His command was poor, and he had a career worst 4.7 BB/9 rate. Gallardo allowed 16 homers in his limited time, for a career worst 1.2 HR/9. His ERA and WHIP were wretched at 5.04 and 1.585 rates respectively. There’s more terrible stats to share, but why beat a dead horse, or a terrible Gallardo. 2016 was a putrid season he’s like to forget.
In an interview with ESPN.MLB Gallardo said:
“It was tough. Last year wasn’t fun for me,” Gallardo said. “It was a down year for me. It didn’t start off the right way. I showed up to spring training late after signing late, and I got started a little bit later than normal. That injury early in the year, it was very frustrating. I think this offseason I’ve done everything I can to prepare myself to avoid that for the rest of my career. I’m looking forward to a bounce back year.”
That doesn’t mean Gallardo is a bad pitcher. He’s been a solid starter for almost all of his nine years in the major leagues. He was added to the 2010 National League All-Star team, and placed seventh in Cy Young voting in 2011. However, his peripherals did seem to dip somewhat after he was traded to Texas in 2015.
Gallardo is a classic Dipoto bounce-back candidate. He has a history of success in the majors, suffered a down year but is aiming to improve for the 2017 season.
Sorry, but that’s not enough Jerry. Maybe Gallardo will bounce back from injury as Chris Young did in 2014, Hisashi Iwakuma did in 2013, and Kevin Millwood did in 2012. Even if he does, and that’s a big if, the M’s need at least one more proven starter, whether that’s Jason Hammels, Doug Fister, Drew Smyly or somebody else.
The window will not stay open for this team forever as Cano and Cruz, Felix and Iwakuma continue to age. As scarce as pitching may be this year, the longer you wait the more expensive it will become. Pull the trigger Jerry, we need pitching.