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Mariners RHP Ken Giles
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Jerry Dipoto Show: Mariners’ signing of Ken Giles adds ‘premium’ arm that fits team’s future

New Mariners RHP Ken Giles could be a long-term fixture of Seattle's bullpen. (Getty)

Talk surrounding the Mariners over the last few days has been focused on the addition of James Paxton, who is back with Seattle after two years with the New York Yankees. But before it was reported that Paxton was returning to the Pacific Northwest, the Mariners made another signing that had some intrigue in reliever Ken Giles.

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Giles, 30, is a hard-throwing right hander who most recently spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays. He appeared in only five games in 2020 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he was one of the best relievers in baseball in 2019, striking out 83 in 53 innings to go along with his 1.87 ERA and 1.000 WHIP.

Before playing in Toronto, Giles had played for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros. He has a career 2.74 ERA and 115 saves in 351 innings since making his MLB debut in 2014. Giles had Tommy John surgery late in the 2020 season, however, so it’s likely he doesn’t pitch at all in 2021 and his Mariners debut will have to wait until 2022.

Even with the team signing Giles and Paxton, the Mariners have had a pretty quiet offseason overall, and fans weren’t totally sold on signing a reliever who may not help the team this upcoming season.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Thursday for the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show and broke down why he feels the signing of Giles is a great one for his club.

“The intent there was to sign what we think is a premium bullpen arm that fits us really well,” Dipoto said.

As evidenced by his 2019 season, Giles has the ability to be a top-notch reliever. In addition to his great ERA and strikeout numbers that year, Giles also had elite velocity and a strikeout and whiff rate in the 99th percentile in all of MLB, per Statcast.

The Mariners have made other notable moves in the bullpen this offseason, trading for Rafael Montero, signing Kenyan Middleton and re-signing Kendall Graveman. Dipoto said that signing Giles made a lot of sense because of the direction of the club and that it goes along with the Mariners’ thinking when it comes to pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery.

“We were focused on guys who fit what we were doing and ideally we were able to add players who were going to be here longer than 2021 or presented that opportunity,” he said. “In Ken’s case, we were able to add him for multiple years. We understood that 2021 was going to be a rehab year for him, but again, like we have done with the past, we are willing to take the risk associated with the rehab from Tommy John, understanding that in this case, the upside is considerable. And for a guy who has a chance to be with us not just for a year and to see how it goes but for potentially two or three years, that would be fantastic.”

Dipoto wanted to make it clear that he and his staff feel like the Mariners got one of the best arms in baseball by signing Giles.

“It was the long and short of his performance from Philadelphia when he first entered the big leagues (in 2014) through his most recent trip in Toronto,” Dipoto said. “Ken, since he entered the big leagues, has been one of the five or six most valuable relief pitchers in baseball by the metric of Fangraphs WAR. So that’s notable.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs at 8:30 a.m. Thursdays on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant. To hear the full segment, click here or listen in the player below.

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Danny and Gallant Show