The Mariners Monday made some noise ahead of the trade deadline Tuesday, but it was closer to a murmur than a yippee-yahoo. That is typical when hiring veteran middle relievers whose contracts expire after the season.
Lefty Zach Duke, 35, was acquired from Minnesota for a Class AA pitcher and a Class A infielder. A couple of hours later, right-hander Adam Warren, 31 next month, was picked up from the Yankees for international slot money, reportedly $1.25 million. The additions follow a trade late last week for another middle reliever, RHP Sam Tuivailala, 25, for minor league pitching prospect Seth Elledge.
Tuivailala has two years of MLB service time, so will be part of the Mariners future. Duke and Warren are emergency temp hires to help a team (62-43) that has lost 11 of its past 17 entering a three-game series against division-leading Houston (67-40) that was to begin at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field.
Duke is the second lefty set-up man in the pen behind James Pazos.
“It’s nice to have two,” manager Scott Servais told MLB.com before the game. “You can match up a little earlier sometimes. Pazos had a really good first half, and we used him a lot. He’s still been very effective. Paz likes to come right after you. Duke does it a little differently with an array of pitches and angles and slots.”
The Mariners still have a need for a starting pitcher. But with an already slim and picked-over list of likely candidates in the majors, chances grow dim that general manager Jerry Dipoto will snag anyone under contractual control that’s worthy of the fifth spot, which at the moment belongs to a shaky Felix Hernandez.
“It’s tough to imagine how we’re going to fit much more on our pitching staff,” Dipoto told MLB.com pre-game. “There’s a lot of bodies and there’s only so many chairs, so we’re going to have to be creative in how we work it right now.
“We’re not closing the door on the potential to add something else in the rotation. But I wouldn’t say we’re hopeful that something’s going to happen.”
Duke, a 14-year MLB veteran, is joining his ninth organization. For the Twins this season, he was 3-4 with 12 holds and a 3.62 ERA in 45 games. He has limited left-handed hitters to a .237 average with 16 strikeouts and two extra-base hits. Duke has not allowed a home run this season, one of three AL pitchers to appear in at least 30 games without allowing a homer.
Duke came at a cost of Chase De Jong, 24, a starter at AA Arkansas who also made seven appearances for the Mariners (four starts, 0-3, 6.35 ERA) during the injury-induced chaos of the past season. Seattle also gave up INF Ryan Costello, who at Clinton this season hit .266 with 24 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs and 70 RBI in 101 games.
Seattle will pay about $600,000 of Duke’s $2.15 million contract.
With the Yankees this season, seven-year vet Warren (6-1, 225) was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 12 walks in 24 games. He was averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings while allowing three home runs. Warren has about $1 million remaining on his $3.3 million, one-year deal.
Paxton back on the mound
The Mariners activated James Paxton from the disabled list to start against the Astros Friday. Lower back inflammation put him on the DL July 13.
Also added to the roster was INF Zach Vincej (VINCE-ee), 27, who this season in AAA Tacoma was batting .236 with 34 runs, nine doubles, two triples, six home runs and 44 RBI in 84 games. He has appeared at shortstop (70 games, 69 starts), second base (13) and third base (once). Vincej was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati on Nov. 3 and outrighted to Tacoma Nov. 11.
To make room, the Mariners sent down to Tacoma 1B Dan Vogelbach and put 3B Kyle Seager on paternity leave, which can last for up to three days.
The Mariners also designated for assignment INF Gordon Beckham, 31, who hit .200 (7×35) in 13 games.