Live updates from Day 3 of the MLB winter meetings -- The Mariners trade for their own player, Shohei Ohtani's damaged elbow and Scott Boras time.

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ORLANDO, Fla.

Updated 4:45 p.m.

So let’s take a look at this.

The Mariners gave up …

Vieira has a 100 mph fastball with some basic idea of where it’s going. But not much ability to truly command the pitch. His slider is still very much a work in progress that lacks consistency, command and even control. He’s a ridiculously hard worker and great kid. But his struggles last season showed that he wasn’t quite ready to be a trusted member of the bullpen. There is a chance that he never truly finds that repeatability with his violent mechanics and never gets the command to harness all that power to be dominant or even effectively reliable. But a 100-102 mph fastball will give him many chances.

Banuelos, who was drafted this season, is a stud behind the plate. He’s got a strong arm, a quick release and is an outstanding blocker. The Mariners believed he was one of their best defensive catchers in the organization the moment the drafted him out of Long Beach State. The question with him was the bat. Questions about his swing, his power and his contact ability remain.  He hit .236 with a .725 OPS, eight doubles, four homers and 26 RBIs in 36 games for short-season Everett. Most scouts believe he profiles as a back-up big league catcher that is carried to the big leagues by his defense. The M’s are set at catcher with Mike Zunino and likely Mike Marjama as the backup.

The Mariners get …

As written below, Armstrong has MLB experience and has proven to be effective in a middle relief role. He has a fastball that can touch 96 mph and sits 92-94 with a cutter. He made 21 appearances for Cleveland, pitching in front of their strong back end of the bullpen. If you remove one bad outing where he gave up five runs in one inning against the Diamondbacks on April 8, he had a 2.66 ERA in his other 20 appearances. He certainly has the capability of filling in for a role that worked well for Emilio Pagan last season. If they can get that from Armstrong, it’s certainly makes the $500,000 worth it. The lack of minor league options is an issue. But if the starting rotation can remain even a little healthy, there shouldn’t be quite the amount of shuttling of relievers back and forth from Seattle to Tacoma.

The move to give up $1 million for Misiewicz seemed puzzling. But in talking with an opposing scout, he might be better than people think. The lefty isn’t overpowering. His fastball sits around 90 mph and can touch 93 mph to go with a curveball and a changeup. The scout pointed out Misiewicz’s 141 strikeouts in 147 2/3 innings pitched.

“I think he’ll get to the big leagues as a back end starter or emergency guys, not solid that he’ll stick,” he said.

Yes, we text with a lot of scouts.

The Mariners got a bullpen arm that is more established than Vieira and a fringe starter for a backup catcher. I don’t know if it’s a win, but it’s not a horrible result.

Updated 4:14 … correction on slot dollars 

A source confirmed a report from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the Mariners actually gave up $1 million in international bonus pool money to the Rays to reacquire lefty Anthony Misiewicz. So the Mariners have actually traded away $1.5 million in bonus pool dollars on the day, leaving them with just over $2 million in bonus pool money.

 

Updated 3:42 p.m. — Mariners interested in reliever Juan Nicasio 

Seattle’s desire to add another solid middle reliever to its bullpen has not resulted in any deals from the free agent market. With a run on relievers like Anthony Swarzak, Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Bryan Shaw and Tommy Hunter, the Mariners missed out on bringing in a proven guy to join David Phelps, Nick Vincent and Tony Zych. They had interest in several of those arms. So now they will turn their focus to Juan Nicasio, who was previously with the Phillies.

Updated 3:20 p.m. … M’s add a relief pitcher for slot dollars

The Mariners moved more of that excess international bonus pool money and picked up another right-handed pitcher for depth on their 40-man roster.

Seattle sent $500,000 in international bonus pool money to Cleveland in exchange for reliever Shawn Armstrong. It was the second trade of the day where the Mariners moved some of the surplus of bonus pool dollars left over from their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani. Seattle sent $500,000 to the Rays in exchange for one of their former minor league pitchers. The $1 million traded away leaves the Mariners with $2.557 million in their bonus pool.

Armstrong, 27, split the 2017 season between Class AAA Columbus and Cleveland. He made 21 relief appearances with the Indians, going 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings pitched.  Over his last 18 MLB outings, he posted a 2.91 ERA with 18 strikeouts. In 28 relief appearances with Columbus, he posted a 1-1 record with 10 saves and a 3.07 ERA.

In parts of three Major League seasons, he is 1-0 with a 3.53 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 39 appearances with Cleveland.

From an opposing American League scout on Armstrong:

“Good fastball/cutter guy with chance to be better than he has been in the big leagues so far. Not a high upside guy but I think he’s gonna have a nice year or two as a middle reliever at some point. Not a bad guy to compete for a bullpen spot in camp without giving up anything. Mariners are good at collecting low 90s RHR (right-handed relievers). They need some velo (velocity) guys.”

Perhaps the only downside for Armstrong and the Mariners is that he’s out of minor league options so he would have be designated for assignment if they wanted to send him down to Class AAA.

Seattle now has two open spots on its 40-man roster.

Updated 2:45 p.m.  … talking to Cruz

Nelson Cruz did a quick conference call with a handful of writers to talk about the workouts that he organized for teammates. It’s something he’d never done before.

“This is the first time,” he said. “It’s just a way to get guys together. It’s a way to help my teammates get better while helping me get better.”

There was some hope to have 10-12 players from the Mariners join him in the Miami area. However scheduling logistics and some other family commitments limited the group to eight people.

  • Cruz
  • Guillermo Heredia
  • Ben Gamel
  • James Paxton
  • Ryon Healy
  • Dee Gordon
  • Ariel Miranda

Robinson Cano just returned to the Dominican Republic from his trip to the Middle East and is unable to make it. Jean Segura is still trying to join the group, but he has other commitments. Cruz was happy with the number showing up.

“It’s hard to leave your free time to go somewhere to work,” Cruz said.

Cruz felt it was most important to get newcomers Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy to join the group.

“It’s nice to have the team atmosphere and have different ideas and  talk about all the goals we want to accomplish in the season,” he said.

The group will have dinner every night and workout on the field and in an unidentified Miami gym. It’s a three day deal, though Healy and Gordon have already been there working out with Cruz. The days will include:

  • Assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the body.
  • Position specific geared training
  • Batting cage option on Friday after training

 

Updated 11:56 … Mariners reacquire their own player

As expected, the Mariners have begun trading away some of the international bonus pool money they acquired in their quest to sign Shohei Ohtani.

The first move came on Wednesday afternoon when they made yet another trade with Tampa Bay Rays. Seattle sent $500,000 in bonus money to Tampa in exchange for left-handed pitcher Anthony Misiewicz. 

When the deal was announced Misiewicz’s name, which isn’t easy to spell, sounded vaguely familiar. Then came the realization that the Mariners had traded Misiewicz, who was pitching at Class AA Arkansas to the Rays during the season. On August 6, Seattle sent Misiewicz and infielder Luis Rengifo  to the Rays in exchange for reliever Ryan Garton, who made 13 appearances out of the bullpen for Seattle, and catcher Mike Marjama, who is expected to be the backup this season.

Misiewicz, 23, made 28 combined starts between High-A Modesto, Class AA Arkansas and Class AA Montgomery (Tampa Bay) in 2017, posting an 11-6 record with a 4.51 ERA with 141 strikeouts and 43 walks in 147 2/3 innings pitched. Seattle selected Misiewicz in the 18th round in the 2015 MLB draft out of Michigan State University.

 

Updated 11:20 … It’s Scott Boras’ world and we are just living in it. 

Every year on the Wednesday of the winter meetings, super agent Scott Boras does a press briefing to extoll the virtues and value of his free agent clients like Eric Hosmer and Jake Arrieta, while providing thoughts on players under contract like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. It’s a frenzy of national reporters and local beat reporters crowding around Boras, who usually stands on a dais or riser so he can see everyone. The photo above shows the chaos.

Updated 10:45 a.m. — Whoa-tani 

So last night around around 10:15 p.m., most of the media members at the MLB Winter Meetings were finishing up a late dinner at the Swan & Dolphin Hotel or having an adult beverage at the lobby bar — where so much information, good or bad, is spread. And one by one you could see people checking their phones and gasping at the Twitter alerts they were seeing.

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped a bomb of a scoop on the meetings about Shohei Ohtani.

Passan acquired a copy of Ohtani’s physical and medical report that was provided to all the teams that completed the initial questionnaire that Ohtani and his representation, Creative Artists Agency, asked teams to fill out.

In that report, he found that Ohtani has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and underwent a Platelet Rich Plasma injection, which was first reported by SI’s Tom Verducci, in October to alleviate some of the pain.

From the story …

Ohtani, the 23-year-old right-handed pitcher and left-handed power hitter who signed with the Angels on Saturday after a frenzied recruiting process, has a first-degree sprain of his right UCL, according to a report dated Nov. 28 and performed by Dr. Masamitsu Tsuchiya at Doai Kinen Hospital in Tokyo.

While a first-degree sprain is the least severe of UCL injuries, further damage could lead to Tommy John surgery, a reconstructive procedure that sidelines pitchers for a year. The shot of PRP, a biologic of centrifuge-spun blood that is used to promote healing, was administered Oct. 20, according to the report, which was distributed to teams after Ohtani entered Major League Baseball’s posting system. Ohtani, the report said, “will be most likely available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.” After returning to Japan from Anaheim, Ohtani was seen playing catch Tuesday, according to reports in Japan. Sports Illustrated first reported that Ohtani had received the PRP shot.

“Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists,” the report said, “ … he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.”

It became the talk of the meetings. Angels writers scrambled to get what Passan had written confirmed by their sources. Media members debated which organization leaked the physical and how bad the elbow really was for Ohtani.

Angels GM Billy Eppler downplayed the report telling the LA Times in a text:

“His elbow looked consistent with pitchers at his age and usage level. We were pleased with the results of the physical and we are happy to have the player.”

Passan is a bit of an elbow nerd having written his excellent book “The Arm,” which is highly suggested reading. He wrote:

Elbow damage is fairly common among pitchers, though the use of a PRP shot indicates a further level of concern. It is particularly troublesome for Ohtani because of a strong correlation between fastball velocity and elbow injuries. Ohtani, whose fastball has reached 102 mph, threw only 25 1/3 innings for the Fighters this season after missing most of the year with a strained hamstring. Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, did not return a call seeking comment.

Did the Mariners dodge a potential Drew Smyly situation? It’s possible. Though even if Ohtani were to undergo Tommy John at some point, he’s still a relative bargain in terms of investment and club control.

All ulnar collateral ligaments become damaged through usage over time. The act of throwing a ball is not natural and can place pressure on the ligament.

If you recall, rumors of Felix Hernandez’s ulnar collateral ligament surfaced when he signed his $175 million contract. It led to a clause in his contract for his option year that specifically included elbow injury language. From Cot’s baseball contracts: the “club may exercise 2020 option if Hernandez spends more than 130 consecutive days (in one season or from one season overlapping into the next) on disabled list with right elbow surgery or other procedure to repair right elbow injury.”

Hernandez has never had elbow issues since signing the deal, but he does plenty of treatment to keep it healthy. His shoulder and other injuries, well, that’s a different story.

It will be interesting to see what the Angels do with Ohtani going forward. The Times reported that he’s already begun his throwing program. And the Angels have decided to go with a six-man rotation to keep Ohtani’s routine of pitching every sixth day, which is standard in Japan. The Mariners would have done the same if they acquired Ohtani.