Mariners land veteran Gallardo for rotation

Smith sent to Baltimore on active day for GM Dipoto

January 6th, 2017

SEATTLE -- After weeks of pursuing available options, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto moved to bolster the team's rotation on Friday by acquiring veteran right-hander from the Orioles in a trade for outfielder Seth Smith.

Smith provides Baltimore with a needed left-handed-hitting outfielder, while Gallardo fills Seattle's rotation holes created by Dipoto's trade of to the Royals on Friday for and the Nov. 23 trade of to the D-backs.

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Gallardo has a career record of 108-83 with a 3.79 ERA over 10 Major League seasons, and he was a National League All-Star in 2010 for the Brewers. The 30-year-old went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts for Texas in 2015, then was 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA in 23 starts after signing with Baltimore last season.

"Gallardo gives us the veteran presence that we have been searching for," Dipoto said. "He has a track record of durability and success as a starting pitcher. After examining the free-agent and trade market, Yovani is the best fit for our club as we move forward this offseason."

Smith has a career slash line of .261/.344/.447 over 10 seasons in which he's primarily been used in a platoon role. The 34-year-old hit .249 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs in 378 at-bats last year in his second season with Seattle, and he has one year at $7 million remaining on his contract.

Gallardo missed two months early last season with biceps tendinitis in his right shoulder and wound up throwing just 118 innings, but he has otherwise been an innings eater throughout his career, with at least 184 frames each season from 2009-15. He's owed $11 million in 2017 and has a team option at $13 million for '18, with a $2 million buyout.

Gallardo didn't sign until Feb. 25 last year with the Orioles, due largely to Draft-pick compensation after he rejected the qualifying offer from the Rangers. He didn't make his first Spring Training start until March 8.

"It was rough. Last year wasn't fun for me," Gallardo said. "It was a down year for me. It didn't set up the right way. I got started late, and having the injury was very frustrating. This offseason, I've done everything I can to avoid that for the rest of my career. Looking forward to a bounce-back year."

Gallardo is one of nine pitchers to throw 180-plus innings in at least seven of the last eight seasons, joining new teammate on that list. He's tied for eighth in most starts by a Major Leaguer since 2009 with 246, and he's 16th in quality starts with 139 in that span.

Since trading Walker to the D-backs in November to acquire shortstop , Dipoto has been looking for a veteran starter to slide into the middle of the rotation behind Hernandez, and .

The Mariners also return , and they recently added Chris Heston from the Giants and and from the Braves. But Gallardo offers a more proven commodity to a team looking to challenge in the American League West after finishing 86-76 last year.

The Mariners have made nine trades this offseason, increasing Dipoto's total to 34 since he took over as GM last year.

Gallardo had some outstanding seasons with the Brewers during his eight years in Milwaukee, including 2011, when he finished seventh in the NL Cy Young Award voting after going 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts. But his 5.42 ERA and 1.58 WHIP last year were the highest of his career, as were his 4.7 walks per nine innings.

"I don't want to make excuses or point fingers," he said. "It was just one of those things. The No. 1 thing is to be healthy. If not, command is the first sign that something is going on. It was just frustrating."

Gallardo said he "feels great" this offseason and is on his normal winter throwing program. He pitched in the World Baseball Classic for Mexico in 2013 but said he hasn't decided if he'll do that this spring.

Gallardo has pitched just twice at Safeco Field during his career -- both with the Rangers in 2015 -- but he has yet to give up a run over 11 1/3 innings in a pair of wins at his new home park. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was born in Mexico but attended high school in Fort Worth, Texas, and was a second-round selection of the Brewers in the 2004 Draft.

He said he's looking forward to pitching with Hernandez and making half his starts at Safeco.

"For sure, it's always nice to pitch in ballparks that are pitcher-friendly," he said. "But the No. 1 thing is going out and performing, no matter what ballpark you're in."