The Seattle Mariners have acquired 34-year-old right-hander Aaron Harang from the Colorado Rockies in a trade that sends minor league RHP Steve Hensley to Colorado. The Rockies acquired Harang from the Dodgers on April 6 when they sent catcher Ramon Hernandez to Los Angeles and immediately designated him for assignment.
According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, Seattle will wait to see how Harang performs in a bullpen session on Friday before determining his role. A Mariners source said that "significant cash" was also involved in the deal in order to offset Harang's $7 million salary.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik implied that Harang would be entering the rotation if he could demonstrate that he was physically ready to do so:
"We have to get a feel for where he's at physically," Zduriencik said. "We have starters, so the fact he's going to bump somebody right now, I think is a little premature. But he is a starting pitcher and if he's in good shape and his pitch count is where we think it needs to be and his bullpen is successful, we'll address it after that."
Both Blake Beavan and rookie Brandon Maurer have struggled in Seattle's rotation in their first two starts. Beavan has given up nine earned runs in 10.2 innings so far this season, while Maurer has surrendered six in both of his starts, including a brutal 0.2 inning effort against the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Zduriencik suggested that Beavan or Maurer could end up in a long relief role if Harang makes the rotation. Kameron Loe, who also got roughed up during the Astros game after replacing Beavan, was designated for assignment to make way for Harang.
Safeco Field is a much better environment for any pitcher than hitter-friendly Coors Field, but Harang in particular benefits as he has an above-average fly ball rate for his career. He managed to post a 3.61 ERA with the Dodgers last season, albeit with a career-low BABIP and home run rate. The Mariners have several well-regarded pitching prospects in the minors, including Erasmo Ramirez, Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker. Ramirez had been touted as a potential starter for the Mariners out of spring training but ultimately missed out on a spot and started the season on the minor league disabled list with triceps soreness.
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