The Mariners probably took themselves out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes by signing Hunter Strickland
In an offseason that has seen teams like the White Sox go out and acquire the friends and family members of Manny Machado in hopes they can sway him towards picking them in free agency, another team has seemingly opted to go in another direction.
Free-agent reliever Hunter Strickland in agreement with #Mariners on one-year contract, sources tell The Athletic.- Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 24, 2019
Yes, the Mariners have agreed to terms with arguably the biggest baseball enemy of one Bryce Harper. Their dramatic scuffle after Strickland plunked Harper with a 98-mph fastball in May 2017 was one of the more memorable of the last decade, thanks in large part to Harper's errant helmet throw:
Of course, it is important to remember the true origins of this spicy baseball beef: Harper, a week before his 22nd birthday, going yard off Strickland twice in the 2014 NLDS:
Strickland clearly didn't take too well to the nearly 1,000 feet of October home run balls he had allowed, as evidenced by his actions a few seasons later with the infamous hit-by-pitch.
There has been chatter of a mystery team or two in the Harper sweepstakes. Unfortunately, Mariners fans might have to accept now that their team isn't one of those lurking in the Hot Stove shadows ... unless GM Jerry Dipoto has the brave ambition of bringing these two adversaries together. Only time can tell.
Regardless of Strickland's not-so-friendly history with Bryce, he does fill a pretty big hole in the Mariners bullpen, which has seen its five most frequently-used relievers -- Edwin Diaz, Alex Colome, Nick Vincent, Juan Nicasio and James Pazos -- depart since the end of the 2018 season via trade or free agency. Someone's gotta come in when the starter gets tired!