Sources within the Mariners have confirmed the organization has traded right-handed reliever Mark Lowe to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for three minor league left-handed pitchers Nick Wells , Jake Brentz and Rob Rasmussen.
With the 2015 season lost, the Mariners continue to sell off of pieces with the trade deadline looming on Friday afternoon.
Sources within the Mariners have confirmed the organization has traded right-handed reliever Mark Lowe to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for three minor league left-handed pitchers Nick Wells , Jake Brentz and Rob Rasmussen .
Rasmussen will take Lowe’s spot on the 40-man roster.
It’s not a surprising move for Seattle. Lowe has plenty of value to contending teams as an economical set-up man out of the bullpen. He’s been Seattle’s best reliever this season, making 34 appearances and allowing just six runs in 34 innings pitched for a 1.00 ERA. He’s struck out 47 batters with just 11 walks.
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“Mark Lowe was a really nice piece for us and it’s very difficult to give him up,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “But when you are sitting there with the opportunity to acquire three players and all three have numbers of years of control and are young kids – that’s a hard call.”
Lowe, who was drafted and developed by the the Mariners, signed a minor league deal in the offseason as an insurance policy for what was supposed to be a stacked bullpen. However, Seattle’s shutdown bullpen from last season imploded with key right-handers – Danny Farquhar, Dominic Leone, Yoervis Medina, Fernando Rodney and Tom Wilhelmsen – all struggling this season. Lowe started the season in Class AAA Tacoma, but was called up on May 11 and was outstanding from the very beginning.
While Lowe goes to another team and will be a free agent in the offseason, sources close to Lowe said he’d be interesting in returning to Seattle next season. Lowe is building a house in Vancouver-Camas area and plans to live there in the offseason. But Lowe won’t sign for a minor league contract like he did this past offseason. It will take a “reasonable” Major League contract to bring Lowe back.
“Losing Mark was tough,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s been one of the top right-handed relievers in all of baseball this season. He’s done a tremendous job for us. He was everything that was right about the Seattle Mariners. He represented this organization in the highest fashion. He’s a quality individual, quality person in the clubhouse and it was tough to lose him.”
The Mariners add some depth to their farm system. Rasmussen has some big league experience while Wells and Brentz are still very young prospects in the lower levels of the minor leagues.
Rasmussen, 26, has appeared in 11 big leagues games – in one game with Toronto earlier this year and 10 last season he’s thrown a total of 12.1 innings over the last two seasons, he has a 2.92 ERA (4 ER, 12.1 IP) with 14 strikeouts. H He’s spent most of this season at Class AAA Buffalo where he was 4-1 with one save and a 2.36 ERA (11 ER, 42.0 IP) with 40 strikeouts in 34 games including one start. Rasmussen was originally a second round pick by th eMarlins in the 2010 draft out of UCLA. During his minor league career, he is 28-34 with a 3.72 ERA (214 ER, 517.2 IP) with 438 strikeouts in 157 games including 78 starts over 6 minor league seasons in the Miami, Houston, Los Angeles (NL) & Toronto organizations.
Wells is just 19 and stands 6-foot-5. He is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA (17 ER, 32.0 IP) with 31 strikeouts in seven starts for Rookie level Bluefield in the Appalachian League this season. He was a third round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2014 draft out of Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia. He has a 2-5 record with a 5.26 ERA (39 ER, 66.2 IP) with 49 strikeouts in two minor league seasons. Wells was rated as the Blue Jays’ No. 28 prospect by Baseball America before this season.
“He’s a real projectable guy with a big curveball,” Zduriencik said.
Brentz, 20, is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA (10 ER, 22.0 IP) with 16 strikeouts in six starts for Rookie level Bluefield in the Appalachian League. He was an 11th round pick in the 2013 draft out of Parkway South High School in Manchester, Missouri. In three minor league seasons, he is 1-4 with a 4.80 ERA (37 ER, 69.1 IP) with 58 strikeouts in 27 games including 12 starts.
“Both lefthanders are big upside guys,” Zduriencik said.