NEW YORK — In the visitors’ clubhouse of Yankee Stadium, players tried to stay or act busy but still found themselves checking their phones and glancing up at every television tuned to MLB Network.
They arrived at the park hours before the 6 p.m. ET MLB trade deadline with the news that Nationals star Juan Soto had been traded to the Padres, while several other deals had been reported or announced.
Would they be getting new teammates? Would they be sent to a new team?
Luis Torrens sat quietly at his locker, perhaps knowing that the Mariners were shopping for his replacement due to lack of performance. Scrolling through his phone, either messages or Twitter, his face suddenly turned a little ashen when news that the Mariners were trading for a catcher appeared. He got up and walked out of the clubhouse.
Later in the dugout, Chris Flexen walked by and asked with a smile, “Have I been traded?”
Then his tone grew serious, “No, seriously, have we made any moves?”
The Mariners did indeed make two trades Tuesday. By industry standards, they were minor moves to strengthen the overall roster. To fans, they were, well, “meh moves” to be put in those most civil of terms.
The moves had a local flavor with two players that grew up in the area, cheering for the Mariners, returning home.
The Mariners acquired catcher Curt Casali and lefty Matt Boyd from the Giants in exchange for minor leaguers: right-handed pitcher Michael Stryffler and catcher Andy Thomas.
Casali will replace Torrens on the active roster and serve as backup to Cal Raleigh. Boyd, a Mercer Island native and Eastside Catholic standout, is expected to pitch out of the bullpen.
The Mariners also acquired infielder Jake Lamb from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations. Lamb was born in Seattle and was a standout at Bishop Blanchet and the University of Washington.
“We’re really excited for what are probably under-the-radar moves and have a chance to really improve the depth of our roster as we head into these next couple of weeks,” Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners president of baseball operations, said via video conference. “We’ll see what we can do for the final two months of the season.”
Both Casali and Boyd are currently on the Giants injured list. Casali is recovering from a right oblique strain that forced him to the injured list on July 5. Boyd is on the 60-day injured list and is finishing up his recovery from left flexor tendon surgery on March 27.
Casali, 33, is in the midst of a rehab assignment. He’s played in three games with Class AAA Sacramento and will transfer over to Tacoma to finish it.
“He fits that veteran backup catcher role,” Dipoto said. “He works very well with pitchers. He’s got some know-how. He’s played in the postseason. He fits what we do and how we do it. We feel like adding Curt also gives us someone who’s very familiar with Luis Castillo.”
Casali played with Castillo and the Reds from 2018-2020, catching Castillo in 27 starts.
Boyd will throw a simulated game Wednesday with Class AAA Tacoma in Sacramento. If that goes well, he’ll start a rehab assignment next week.
“Some time in the next two to three weeks, we’ll have him back on the Major League roster very likely in the role of multi-inning reliever,” Dipoto said. “That’s something we were looking to acquire.”
Boyd has been a starter for much of his career, but the hope is that the relief role will help keep him healthy and allow his stuff to play up in shorter bursts. The Mariners had interest in Boyd when he was with the Tigers and even as a free agent.
“We’ve always liked Matt,” Dipoto said. “He’s got that high-riding fastball. It fits the way we like to go about putting together a pitching plan.”
Lamb, 31, played in 25 games for the Dodgers this season, coming off the bench and posting a .239/.338/.433 slash line with five doubles, a triple, two homers, four RBI with eight walks and 24 strikeouts.
A left-handed hitter, Lamb will likely see most of his at-bats against right-handed pitchers. He has a career .252/.340/.458 slash line against right-handed pitchers in more than 2,000 career MLB plate appearances.
As for the trade that sent Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres in exchange for five players, Dipoto called it the biggest trade he’d ever seen.
“We were all taken aback by the big trade with Juan Soto,” he said.
So did the Mariners call on Soto?
“We didn’t get too far down the road,” he said. “Like we are prone to do, we check in with everybody on everything and make sure that we’ve turned over all those stones. We did that with the Nats on Soto and pretty early on, we understood that the asking price was just going to be too much for us to bear. So we moved on and focused on other things, obviously the most notable was we focused on Luis Castillo and made it a priority to bring him to Seattle.”