The Seattle Mariners are taking to the trade market to acquire some bullpen help according to a report from Jon Heyman. This report comes following an announcement on Monday that Charlie Furbush may not be ready for Opening Day due to biceps tendinitis. The Mariners skipper, Scott Servais, told reporters that there's a "better chance that [Furbush] is probably going to be late to start the season with us."
Mariners are looking for 7th/8th inning pen help via trade. Furbush injury has created a desire there.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 23, 2016
Two key losses for the Mariners this offseason already came from the bullpen in Carson Smith and Danny Farquhar. While Smith is now also expected to start the season on the disabled list for the Boston Red Sox, perhaps it makes little difference. Furthermore, the Mariners added Joaquin Benoit and Steve Cishek this winter which could help soften the blow.
Furbush, who was one of the most effective relievers for the Mariners in 2014, struggled a bit in 2015. While his ERA sat at 2.08, his peripherals indicated that he was due for some regression. He struck out players at a much lower rate than he was accustomed to prior, and allowed home runs at a higher rate. That being said, it was a very small sample size of 21.2 innings.
Beyond Cishek and Benoit, the Mariners may have to rely on Vidal Nuno and Tony Zych. While those two may play well as fill-ins in a platoon sort-of role, it would still test the depth of the Mariners bullpen.
It's unclear which teams would be willing to trade a reliever this close to the beginning of the season. Especially a 7th or 8th inning guy. However, with rosters being rounded out, the Mariners might find themselves in a position to acquire an inexpensive fill-in that just might not be 25-man material for another team.
Jerry Dipoto made plenty of moves this offseason, so writing off his ability to find an adequate replacement might be foolish. Furthermore, it's unclear how long Furbush will be out for which might diminish the need for finding a replacement. Bullpen depth is relatively coveted though, so if Dipoto does find a deal, it's not like Furbush's eventual health will cause any diminished returns.