The Mariners Friday completed a five-player trade with Tampa Bay, sending INF Dalton Kelly, RHP Andrew Kittredge and RHP Dylan Thompson, all minor leaguers, to the Rays in exchange for INF/OFs Taylor Motter and Richie Shaffer. The swap, plus the early Friday losses of LHP David Rollins and INF/OF Stefen Romero, foreshadowed flurry of later moves.
The Mariners then acquired LHP James Pazos from the New York Yankees in exchange for RHP Zack Littell, added LHP Paul Fry, INF D.J. Peterson and RHP Thyago Vieira to their 40-man roster, and designated RHP Tom Wilhelmsen for assignment.
The Mariners added Fry, Vieira and Peterson, the latter their first pick in the 2013 draft, to the 40-man roster to protect them from plunder in the Dec. 8 Rule 5 draft. Peterson, selected with the 12th overall pick out of the University of New Mexico, hasn’t progressed as fast as the Mariners hoped in his four minor league seasons, but is still Seattle’s No. 8 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.
First things first.
“Motter and Shaffer help us create the depth that is critical to our success,” said GM Jerry Dipoto. “They are two defensively versatile players who have offensive skill. Shaffer brings power and Motter brings on-base ability and speed. Their additions give us players with major league experience who allow us to maintain our roster flexibility throughout the season.”
Motter, 27, hit .188 with 11 runs, two home runs and nine RBIs in 34 games with Tampa Bay last season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder made his MLB debut May 16 at Toronto. Motter appeared at shortstop, second base, right field, third base and first base. He also became the sixth position player in Rays history to pitch (July 1 vs. Detroit). He began 2016 with AAA Durham, where he hit .229 in 88 games.
In parts of six minor league seasons, Motter is a .272 hitter. He was named to the International League midseason and postseason All-Star teams in 2015. The native of West Palm Beach, FL., was drafted by the Rays in the 17th round in 2011.
Shaffer, 25, appeared in 20 games over three stints with Tampa in 2016. He hit .250 while appearing in games at first base, third base and designated hitter. The 6-foot-3, right-handed batter spent the majority of 2016 with Durham. Shaffer was recently rated by Baseball America as the best infield arm in the Rays organization.
Shaffer was selected by Tampa in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Clemson University. He made his MLB debut with the Rays in 2015. He was named the Rays minor league player of the year following the 2015 season after leading all Rays minor leaguers with 26 home runs.
Pazos, 25, went 1–0 with a 13.50 ERA in seven relief appearances with New York last season. He earned his first MLB win Sept. 28 vs. Boston. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder began the 2016 season with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he went 2–2 with one save and a 2.63 ERA in 23 games.
“We’re excited to add James,” Dipoto said. “He brings us a left-handed power arm in the bullpen that we’ve been looking for with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a swing-and-miss curveball.”
A native of Gilbert, AZ., Pazos was selected by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of San Diego.
Fry, 24, went 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 48 games last season with Tacoma. He limited opponents to a .238 average against. A native of Pontiac, MI, Fry was selected by the Mariners in the 17th round of the 2013 draft out of St. Clair Community College (Port Huron, MI).
Peterson, 24, began 2016 with AA Jackson, where he hit .271. After being promoted to Tacoma June 29, Peterson hit .253 in 46 games.
Vieira had a 2.84 ERA in 34 relief appearances with Advanced-A Bakersfield last season. The Mariners signed him as an international free agent in 2010.
“Paul, D.J. and Thyago each had impressive seasons in 2016,” Dipoto said. “We look forward to having them in big league camp in spring training and seeing their continued development.”
Wilhelmsen, 32, went 2-4 with one save and a 6.80 ERA in 50 relief appearances with Seattle and Texas last season. He began the 2016 season with the Rangers and was signed by Seattle June 22. In 29 games, he went 0-1 with one save and a 3.60 ERA. Wilhelmsen went 13-14 with 68 saves for the Mariners between 2011-16.
Kelly, 22, reached base safely in 112 of 130 games with Clinton in 2016, batting .293. Kelly was selected in the 38th round by the Mariners in the 2015 draft out of UC Santa Barbara. Kittredge, 26, went 3-3 with seven saves and a 3.50 ERA last year split between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma. The Spokane native attended the University of Washington from 2009-11.
Due to injuries, Thompson, 22, appeared in three games with the rookie Arizona League Mariners. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Minnesota.
Littell, 21, went 13–6 with a 2.66 ERA split between A Clinton and High-A Bakersfield in 2016. Littell was selected by Seattle in the 11th round of the 2013 draft out of Eastern Alamance (NC) High School.