The Mariners Thursday night completed a six-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, acquiring RHP Nathan Karns, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and minor league OF Boog Powell in exchange for 1B Logan Morrison, INF/OF Brad Miller and RHP Danny Farquhar. The trade is the first major deal for new general manager Jerry Dipoto, hired last month to replace Jack Zduriencik.
“As I said when I was hired, we need to get more flexible, more athletic and build pitching depth,” Dipoto said. “This trade allows us to do all three. Powell brings speed, defense on on-base percentage to the table and could be ready to help us as soon as 2016, while Karns and Riefenhauser give us young, but experienced, pitching options.”
Karns, who turns 28 Nov. 25, is likely destined for the starting rotation. He went 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games, including 26 starts, with Tampa Bay last season. He limited opponents to a .239 batting average, while walking 56 and striking out 145.
Karns led AL rookies in innings pitched (147), strikeouts (145) and starts (26), while his seven wins were tied for fifth-most. Among AL rookies with at least 100 innings pitched, he ranked third in ERA and second in opponent batting average (.239).
Karns was selected by Washington in the 12th round of the 2009 draft out of Texas Tech. He made his debut with the Nationals May 28, 2013 vs. Baltimore. Karns was acquired by the Rays from the Nationals in exchange for C Jose Lobaton, LHP Felipe Rivero and OF Drew Vettleson Feb. 13, 2014. In parts of three MLB seasons, Karns is 8-7 with a 4.00 ERA.
The 25-year-old Riefenhauser made 17 appearances over four stints with the Rays in 2015, combining for a 1-0, 5.52 mark, all in relief. In his final 11 appearances, all in September, he posted a 2.16 ERA, closing with a career-high seven consecutive scoreless appearances. Overall, he was with Tampa Bay from April 17-May 28 and also appeared in 29 games (all in relief) with AAA Durham, posting a 4-2, 2.86 mark.
Riefenhauser was selected by Tampa Bay in the 20th round of the 2010 draft and made his debut April 19, 2014 vs. the Yankees, retiring all four batters faced. In two seasons with Tampa, he went 1-0 with a 6.30 in 24 relief appearances.
Powell (no relation to the famous 1970 AL MVP of the same name), hit .295 with 66 runs between AA Montgomery and AAA Durham in 2015. Powell was selected by Oakland in the 20th round of the 2012 draft out of Orange Coast College. He was traded from the A’s along with C John Jaso, INF Daniel Roberson and cash to Tampa Bay in exchange for SS Yunel Escobar and INF/OF Ben Zobrist Jan. 10, 2015. Over four seasons in the minors, he batted .308 with 170 runs scored in 294 games.
Farquhar, the Mariners closer for half a season three years ago, went 1-8, 5.12 ERA over five stints with Seattle last season. In his three-year (2013-15) career with the Mariners, Farquhar was 4-12, 3.85 ERA with 18 saves in 155 games. The Mariners acquired Farquhar along with D.J. Mitchell July 23, 2012, from the Yankees in exchange for Ichiro Suzuki, so his trade to the Rays officially closes the book on Ichiro.
The ascension of Ketel Marte at shortstop in the final two months foreclosed that spot for Miller, who played all outfield positions as well as second and third base as a super-utility player the past season.
He hit .258 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs in 144 games. A second-round pick by the Mariners in 2011, Miller appeared in 343 games with Seattle over the past three seasons, batting .248 with 29 home runs and 118 RBIs.
Morrison’s production declined last season and the presences of first basemen Mark Trumble and Jesus Montero on the roster made him expendable.
Morrison, 28, hit 17 home runs with 54 RBIs in 146 games last season. In two seasons with Seattle, he hit .241 with 28 home runs and 92 RBIs in 245 games.