Trade Background: The Mariners did not sit still for long deciding they did not want to go with a multiple-rookie outfield acquiring veteran speedster, Jarrod Dyson from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Nate Karns who due to injuries and 2016 effectiveness issues had become a surplus arm without a clear path to a rotation spot.
Roster impacts: Dyson’s arrival, as mentioned, places him as the opening left fielder and possible leadoff hitter with Leonys Martin returning in centerfield, and newly acquired Mitch Haniger in right field. The winner in this scenario will certainly be the pitchers with the upgraded all-around outfield defense. Ben Gamel goes from possible starter to bench player and quite possibly to Triple-A where he will get every day at-bats. Danny Valencia will be a super sub, seeing time at 1B, 3B, and in the OF when the team faces a left-hander.
Nate Karns is still on the outside looking in at a roster spot, let alone a rotation spot. His best path to the rotation is through Matt Strahm who was used entirely out of the bullpen, but effectively for the Royals last year. He’ll return to his starting roots and is penciled in as the fifth starter despite his lack of Triple-A experience.
Player Analysis: Dyson, 32, may be coming of a career year in which he made contact about 88% of the time while posting a respectable .278/.340 line with 30 steals. The lefty is currently in line for the most at-bats of his career as a regular in the Mariners outfield. So, on the one, hand 40-plus steals is a possibility. On the other hand, we are talking about someone who has yet to top 337 plate appearances in a single season who could quickly find himself overexposed. His 2016 contact rate is out of context with the rest of his career, so a regression for him is quite possible. I’d put my sights on a 35-pus stolen base season, but possibly at the expense of a sub .250 batting average, 1 to 2 HRs, 50 to 60 runs and fewer than 35 RBIs. That could still make him go for around $18 to $20 on draft day in AL only leagues, albeit with risk.
Nate Karns, 29, after making some solid process in the strike-throwing department gave away all his gains when he posted a 4+ BB/9 last season. Things got worse in the second half as he missed significant time due to a back injury and he lost all feel for hitting his spots (6.4) K/9 in the second half. On the plus side, Karns doesn’t appear to have lost any velocity and may simply have been pitching injured or seeing his health decline over a longer time span his DL stay especially considering his solid start to the season in April and May. Keep an eye on his velocity and command this spring.
Final Thoughts: Dyson’s speed will continue to gain him value and a double digit bid in AL only leagues, but he is already past his prime years and comes from a platoon-background with a .231/.308/.285 line against lefties. Karns has upside and still managed to strike out around a batter per inning despite his injury, but currently lacks a role making him a $1 days or reserve round pick.