The Mariners needed bullpen help — as well as a lot of other things right now — and they got it in the form of Juan Nicasio. Seattle signed the free agent to a two-year dea pending a physical, according to Ken Rosenthal, in a deal worth $17 million.
Nicasio, who appeared in 76 games last year (tied for the National League lead), is a strong addition to the bullpen for the Mariners. He had a 2.61 ERA between his time with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals with a 1.078 WHIP. He also had 9.0 K/9 and only 2.5 BB/9.
While the Cardinals also wanted him back in their bullpen, he’ll be a key piece for the Mariners as as setup man. He’s also started a handful of games in recent years (after transitioning from a starter to a reliever midway through his career) but didn’t make any starts in 2017.
You might remember Nicasio’s big moment in 2017 being the point when the Pirates put him on irrevocable waivers, lost him for nothing, only for them to watch the Phillies flip him to the division-rival Cardinals for actual assets. That was a fun sequence of events.
But Nicasio is more than that anecdote, and at only 31 years old, this is a good deal for Seattle. The Mariners have whiffed on their Plan A this offseason (AKA getting Shohei Ohtani), and there are worse pivots than adding a reliable bullpen veteran who can anchor an inning each game in order to improve what was an average bullpen in 2017.
This continues the run on relievers at the Winter Meetings, at which the starting pitching market is slower than watching cold molasses spill, and the big hitters are still courting offers from various teams and taking their sweet time deciding on a new home.