The Mariners are on the verge of signing a hard-throwing reliever with extensive closing experience to help their bullpen … in 2022.
Major League Baseball sources confirmed a report from ESPN 710 that the club has reached an agreement with free-agent pitcher Ken Giles on a two-year MLB contract.
It needs to be a multiyear contract because Giles likely won’t be healthy enough to pitch for the Mariners this season.
On Oct. 1, he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The typical recovery from the surgery to get back to full strength is 12 to 15 months. While there have been exceptions, trying to expedite his recovery in the hopes of pitching this season would be risky and less than ideal.
Giles, 30, made just four appearances for the Blue Jays last season, notching one save and posting a 9.82 ERA before the aching elbow ended his season. In 2019, Giles was dominant when healthy, posting a 2-3 record with 23 saves and a 1.87 ERA in 53 appearances. In 53 innings, he struck out a whopping 83 batters with just 17 walks. He was considered a possible trade candidate at the 2019 deadline, but concerns about elbow inflammation lowered his market.
Mariners fans got quite familiar with Giles during his time as the Astros closer. In 2 1/2 seasons with Houston, he racked up 61 saves while posting a 2.74 ERA and striking out more than 30% of the batters he faced.
Over seven MLB seasons, Giles tallied 115 saves and holds a career 2.74 ERA while averaging 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Signing a player who is recovering from a major surgery to a two-year deal — the first year to rehab, the second year to perform — has become a more common occurrence.
The Padres did it with right-hander Garrett Richards, signing him to a two-year contract before the 2019 season. Richards pitched briefly at the end of 2019 but was highly effective as a starter/reliever for San Diego in 2020.
Had Giles remained healthy and pitching at his 2019 levels, he would’ve been one of the top relievers available on the free-agent market. Instead, the Mariners get a potential closer for their bullpen. They’ll just have to wait til next year.