The non-waiver trade deadline came and went without further deal-making by the Mariners Tuesday afternoon, which was something of a surprise given what was presumed to be a sellers’ market for pitching talent such as Jason Vargas and Kevin Millwood.
Instead, the Mariners filled voids created a night earlier by calling up relief pitchers Stephen Pryor and Michael Carter Capps. They will join newcomer outfielder Eric Thames in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. After the demotion of Carlos Peguero to AAA Tacoma, the moves leave the 40-man roster full.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said a good deal wasn’t there for either pitcher.
“You know, we’ve played decent baseball here lately,” he told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We have pieces here of the future. And I think that in order to make a move, it would have had to be the right thing to do. And I just didn’t feel that in any of my discussions that it was the right thing to do.”
That meant that Vargas will take his turn on the mound Tuesday as the Mariners try to extend a five-game winning streak. They are 12-6 since they All-Star break. The Mariners’ biggest move turned out to be a week ago when they unloaded Ichiro on the Yankees for two minor league pitchers.
A trade of Vargas would have continued a trend of cannibalizing the club’s quality pitching in pursuit of a young, quality hitter with a contract under club control for two or three years. And Seattle had no obvious replacement for Vargas in the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Felix Hernandez.
“Day in, day out, I think we pretty much know what we have with this kid,” Zduriencik said. “He’s well-liked in the clubhouse. I think he’s proven he’s certainly a very solid major league pitcher. So, I think we’re comfortable with him and I think he’s comfortable here.”
The Mariners are one of the relative few teams who have no shot at the expanded playoffs, so trying to keep up with the division-rival Rangers and Angels — or even the A’s and their $55 million payroll, about $27 million less than the Mariners — was pointless.
“They’re in a completely different situation than we are,” Zduriencik said of the Rangers an Angels. “Financially, number one. What they’ve done this year, what they did in the winter time and now they’ve got this thing going on between the two clubs. And certainly I hope someday we catch them. That’s our goal.
“But let’s not kid anybody. We knew what we were going into this year. I don’t think there was a point in time where we said anything where we were misleading anybody. We were here trying to build this club, build this foundation, get young kids up here to play, and take the lumps and bumps as they come.”
Capps, who turns 22 Aug. 7, is one of the Mariners’ fastest-rising prospects. When he plays, he will be only the second player in an MLB game from the 2011 draft (Trevor Bauer, third overall, Arizona). A 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander, Capps was a third-round supplemental selection (121st overall) from a Division II school in North Carolina, Mount Olive College. He was named the 2011 NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year after going 14-1 with 2 saves and a 1.75 ERA in 20 games/15 starts.
He had just one appearance with AAA Tacoma, Monday night at Tucson when he struck out three of the four batters he faced. In 38 appearances with AA Jackson he went 2-3 with a Southern League-leading 19 saves and a 1.26 ERA (7 ER, 50.0 IP). He struck out 72 batters for a 12.96 K/9.0 IP ratio, and held opponents to a .212 (40×189) batting average.
Pryor, 23, comes back to the majors after going down June 13 with a groin strain during a game. During his rehab stint, he made six appearances with High Desert (two games) and Tacoma (four).
In 29 appearances in the minor leagues this season, Pryor has a 0.93 ERA (4 ER, 38.2 IP). In 16 games (20.0 IP) with Tacoma, has held opponents hitless (0x34) with runners on base and with runners in scoring position (0x13).
In five appearances with the Mariners, where he flashed a 100 mph fastball, he posted a 1.69 ERA (1 ER, 5.1 IP) with 5 strikeouts. He made his Major League debut June 2 at Chicago and recorded one out in the Mariners combined no-hitter June 8 vs. the Dodgers.
Thames 25, was acquired after Monday’s game when h switched clubhouses with Mariners RHP Steve Delabar. In 54 games with AAA Las Vegas he hit .330 (65×197) with 15 doubles, 3 triples, 6 home runs and 32 RBI.
He came up for 46 games with the Blue Jays this season (38 starts in left field), batting .243 (36×148) with 7 doubles, 3 home runs and 11 RBI.