Not that many GMs get the chance to see their win-now moves come back around to hurt their rebuilds, but the unique situation with the Mariners and Jerry Dipoto we’re seeing both sides of the coin. The Mariners released one of the least successful win-now moves of Dipoto’s regime today, cutting loose RHP Nick Rumbelow after a number of dismal seasons in the Mariners organization. The response when the team acquired Rumbelow for two of the more interesting pitchers in the organization was… lukewarm at best.
JP Sears was a fascinating oddity, using deception and a low-90s fastball to miss bats. Juan Then was a slim bright point in the low-minors with projectability, but both players were in the low minors and Seattle would’ve unequivocally benefited from a back-of-the-bullpen talent like Rumbelow was thought to be prior to 2018. That player never manifested, and less than two years and a DFA later Rumbelow is ticketed for release.
His struggles began soon after his acquisition, as a nerve issue in his neck held him out of Spring Training and ultimately kept him sidelined for much of the year. When he returned to action in the minors, he looked sharp, working a 1.83 ERA and 26/8 K/BB between AA and AAA in 19.2 IP, but he was devoured whole by the dinger bug in the bigs. Eight HRs in 19.0 innings with the Mariners over the past two seasons and little ability to translate his control to command sealed his fate. Seattle was willing to DFA him earlier this spring, but despite not needing a roster spot the team waved a white flag on the 27-year-old’s development with his release today.
The returns for Rumbelow remain years away from burning Seattle directly, but this is another of the deals that could be joining Freddy Peralta and Pablo Lopez as short-term gambles that, having failed to lead to a playoff push, sting all the more. Then is just 19 and only in rookie ball, but pitching well as a starter. Sears hasn’t made any prospect lists but the 23-year-old has been converted to a starter and has decent peripherals in High-A despite a 4.32 ERA. These will not be the last names we see, even as the window of dealing away prospects has come to a close, but they are a remnant of when little gambles add up.