Mariners trade Kendall Graveman, Rafael Montero to Astros for Joe Smith, Abraham Toro
A day after their biggest win of the year, the Mariners have made their first deal of MLB trade deadline week, and it’s certainly a notable one.
Seattle has sent star reliever Kendall Graveman and fellow bullpen arm Rafael Montero, who was recently designated for assignment, to the Houston Astros, who are in town for a three-game series, for veteran reliever Joe Smith and young infielder Abraham Toro.
Graveman has been an absolute force for the Mariners this season out of the bullpen, emerging as the team’s go-to reliever. He has a 4-0 record in 30 appearances with 10 saves, a 0.82 ERA and 0.697 WHIP. He picked up the win for the Mariners on Monday over the Astros after pitching a scoreless eighth inning.
Graveman signed with Seattle prior to the 2020 season to be a starter, but he went on the injured list with a back injury caused by a benign tumor in his spine. He pitched well out of the bullpen late last year, and he returned to the Mariners on a one-year deal this past offseason.
Montero, meanwhile, struggled mightily for the Mariners after starting the year as the team’s closer. In 40 appearances (43 1/3 innings), Montero has a 5-3 record and seven saves, but he posted a 7.27 ERA and a WHIP of 1.638. He was designated for assignment late last week. He came to Seattle via trade this past offseason from the Texas Rangers, who picked up two prospects from the Mariners in the deal.
In return, the Mariners get Smith, a right-hander, and Toro, a 24-year-old infielder in his third MLB season.
Smith, 37, is in his 14th MLB season and has a 7.48 ERA in 21 2/3 innings for the Astros this year. The Mariners would be the seventh team Smith has played for in his career.
Toro is slashing .211/.287/.385 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 35 games this year and has a career slash line of .193/.276/.626. Toro hit a home run for Houston against Seattle on Monday.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Mariners “are far from done” and are looking to be active in the trade market before Friday’s deadline.
Mariners are far from done. They’re still looking to add players, per sources, and could be very active over the next 72 hours.
With Graveman gone, Paul Sewald, who has been phenomenal this year, should step into the closer’s role. @brianmctaggart was first on the trade.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 27, 2021
After the deal was made official, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters that the hope is this move is part of a “succession of moves going forward” this week, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
Per Daniel Kramer, Mariners reporter for MLB.com, Dipoto said Tuesday’s trade “probably doesn’t” make sense “as a standalone (move), but it’s part of a context in what I believe is going to be an ongoing story over the next couple days. … What comes next could be as early as this evening or tomorrow because we do plan on being active.”
In other Mariners transaction news, pitcher Darren McCaughan has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma with left-hander Héctor Santiago returning from a 10-game suspension.