Mariners get ‘legitimate back-of-the-bullpen impact’ with Alex Colomé
The Mariners’ bullpen has not looked like the team intended this season, the result of losing setup man David Phelps to Tommy John surgery near the end of spring training.
On Friday, general manager Jerry Dipoto did something about that.
Dipoto made the first big trade of the 2018 season, bringing All-Star closer Alex Colomé to Seattle along with veteran outfielder Denard Span from Tampa Bay for minor league pitchers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.
“Legitimate back-of-the-bullpen impact,” Dipoto said of Colomé. “(He will help us) shrink the game. We felt like we wanted to find a way to create or import some type of impact. How could we do that? … The impact that we felt like we were getting in Alex Colomé trumps what we thought we could get into in the starting pitcher market.”
Added Mariners manager Scott Servais: “We add a high-end, back-of-the-bullpen arm. Guy’s had a lot of success in the American League in a number of different roles he’s had.”
Colomé made the AL All-Star team in 2016, led the league with 47 saves in 2017, and has 95 career saves (all coming since 2016). While he has a 4.15 ERA this year, he’s settled down after a rocky start, registering a 1.84 ERA, 17 strikeouts and seven saves over his last 15 games (14 2/3 innings).
The Mariners went into the spring expecting to use Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent and Phelps as setup men to closer Edwin Díaz. While Díaz has been arguably the best closer in the game this year, maintaining a 1.78 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and tying for the MLB lead with 17 saves, Nicasio (5.56 ERA) and Vincent (3.98) have been up and down without Phelps around to share the load. Now Colomé becomes perhaps the best of the bunch, even though he has been a closer for the past two-plus seasons.
Dipoto said Colomé had no problem accepting his new role of being a bridge to Díaz.
“I just spoke to him on the telephone and his response was positive,” Dipoto said. “He said ‘I will do what the team needs me to do. I want to win.’ It’s the right answer. He’s by all reports just a great guy and a good teammate. We were looking at this as an eighth inning impact, and I mentioned that to him and brought it to his attention that between he and Díaz, Nicasio, Vincent, (James) Pazos, Cookie (Ryan Cook), we could have some fun down there – and he was all for that.
“I think since the Andrew Miller acquisition by the Indians,” Dipoto quipped, “maybe there’s a little less skepticism when teams do things like this.”
A trade seemed imminent since Mariners second baseman Robinson Canó was suspended 80 games last week, which cleared up $11 million in lost salary for Canó for the Mariners to use. Colomé is making $5.3 million this year, according to Spotrac.com, and is under team control for the next two seasons. Span is making $9 million this year, per Spotrac, and his contract includes a mutual option for $12 million with a $4 million buyout for 2019.
“Big acquisitions for us. Excited,” Servais said. “I think we’re playing good baseball right now and we’re adding to that. The fact that these are veteran guys that can definitely help right away is great.”