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Grading the latest Rays-Mariners trade

Here is a closer look at how the Rays and the Mariners came out of the late afternoon deal on Friday.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals
New Mariner Alex Colome
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

In a bit of a surprise the Rays and Mariners hooked up for a late afternoon trade on the Friday heading into Memorial Day weekend.

The Mariners receive some help to offset the loss of Robinson Cano, as well as help in fortifying their bullpen. The Rays are adding some young prospects and likely some salary relief.

Here’s a closer look at how both sides did.

Seattle Mariners, Grade: B+

Add: Denard Span, Alex Colome

The Mariners are right in the middle of the playoff race in the American League. The loss of Robinson Cano, first to injury and then to PED suspension, was a killer. Not only will Cano miss the next 80 games, but the star second baseman won’t be eligible this postseason as part of the PED suspension.

To help makeup for the loss of Cano, the Mariners moved Dee Gordon into his spot in the field. Gordon, who was acquired from the latest Marlins fire sale this offseason, was playing center field after moving from second base following the trade. This trade allows Gordon to move back to second base and effectively allows Denard Span to replace Cano’s production along with Guillermo Heredia.

Span may not be quite the same hitter as Cano, but he’s a strong defender in center and is more than capable with the bat. Cano was hitting .287/.385/.441 with four homers and 23 RBI to go with an OPS+ of 130. Span was at .238/.364/.385 with four homers and 28 RBI to go with an OPS+ of 112.

Span is a slight downgrade with the bat, but you can argue that the Mariners defense with Span in center and Gordon at second is better than having Gordon in center with Cano at second. Then, there is the fact Span also adds even more speed to the lineup, having stolen 12 bases last year and six already this year- while Cano has combined to steal none since the start of 2017.

Alex Colome was an All Star closer in 2016 and led the AL in saves last year. He wasn’t quite pitching that well this year, but the hard throwing righty’s numbers against left handers were still very impressive. Lefties were only hitting .205/.286/.273 against Colome, compared to the .341/.375/.523 line right handers posted in a similar number of plate appearances.

Colome won’t be asked to close in Seattle, as Edwin Diaz is lights out in that role. However, he gives a bullpen that already features James Pazos, Nick Vincent, and Chasen Bradford another weapon. Colome also helps make up for the spring loss of David Phelps to injury.

To make this even better for the Mariners, they add about $9M in salary from Colome and Span. They just received $12M in relief from Cano’s suspension- so they have saved $3M already. There’s even more savings coming as the Rays sent some cash(amount still TBD), which only add even more positive to this deal for Seattle.

I’m giving the Mariners a B+ because they landed a pair of veterans who can help both on and off the field, and did so at a pretty limited cost in terms of both prospects and money. The Mariners are receiving a to be announced sum of money from the Rays, but if the Mariners somehow get over $3M then this grade would go up to an “A” for me.

Tampa Rays, Grade: C

Add: Andrew Moore, Tommy Romero

Let me say I don’t quite get this. The Rays were only 5.5 games out in the wild card and just added a nice reinforcement in Willy Adames. You can’t even point to them seeing the writing on the wall with the Yankees and Red Sox in the division, especially when both the Blue Jays and Orioles could/should start to sell.

Span wasn’t a huge need because the Rays have their centerfielder of the future already in place in Mallex Smith, and Colome was pitching more like a guy who should be a situational reliever than a closer this year.

Moore was a second round pick out of Oregon State in 2015 and reached the big leagues last year- but had limited success. He’s been at Double A this year and posted a 3.04 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP in 50.1 innings over his first nine starts. Moore has a 47/14 strikeout to walk total.

Moore is no longer a “prospect” after exhausting his rookie eligibility last year, but he’s still a promising pitcher. Moore is a right hander with a four pitch mix that doesn’t overpower but he’s able to get it to play up because of his command and pitchability. Moore’s fastball mostly tops out at 93 MPH, but he’s not afraid to attack hitters with his offerings. He projects best as a backend starter, but could be a #4 starter.

Romero was a find by the Mariners in the 15th round out of a Florida JUCO last year. The 6’2”, 225 pound right hander had a 2.45 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his first 44 innings over nine starts in Low A Clinton. Romero had a 54/15 strikeout to walk total despite not having overpowering stuff.

Romero’s fastball is typically in the 88-92 range, but it’s got life to it and he’s able to command it while mostly pitching down in the zone. He’s got a four pitch mix with the curve being the only other average offering. His command and pitchability do help the slider and change play up a bit, giving him a shot to be a backend starter.

I’m giving the Rays a C here. Even though both Span and Colome were somewhat expendable, the move on the surface feels like a cost motivated move when they still have a chance to make a run towards the wildcard spot. They do a good job of adding a pair of decent pitching prospects into the system, but neither has more than back-end potential. Then there is the fact they are sending money out, and if that money happens to be $3M or more that would make the grade drop.