Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto made perhaps the most significant move of the 2018 season to date, acquiring All-Star closer Alex Colome and veteran outfielder Denard Span from the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday in exchange for a pair of minor league right-handers, Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.
The Mariners hope to have both Colome and Span in uniform Saturday night when they play host to the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field.
“Denard Span’s skill set fits our team quite well,” Dipoto said. “And the impact we felt like we were getting in Alex Colome trumps what we thought we could get in the starting pitching market, while leaving ourselves some wiggle room that if a starter or something otherwise is needed as we get (further) into the season, we still aren’t entirely cut off. We have the ability to go for it if we can.”
The Mariners (30-20) have remained in contention in the American League West despite six starting position players having spent time on the disabled list, plus the 80-game suspension of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano for violating Major League Baseball’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said the move should bolster the team on and off the field.
“I think it’s an awesome message that (despite) everything we’ve dealt with in the last eight to 10 days here, that we’re all in on this season,” Servais said. “That even though we had a setback with Robbie and the injury and suspension, it’s not going to derail us. Our eyes are set on the goal and that’s getting to the playoffs and I think this helps us.”
Dipoto indicated the Mariners could use Colome, a 29-year-old right-hander who led the AL with 47 saves last season, in a manner similar to what the Cleveland Indians do with Andrew Miller. In 23 appearances this season, Colome is 2-5 with a 4.15 ERA and 11 saves.
Servais said Span will spend most of his time in left field, with Ben Gamel moving into a backup role. Span, 34, is batting .238 with four home runs and 28 RBIs in 43 games, with six stolen bases and a .364 on-base percentage.
“Denard Span is going to play,” Servais said. “He gets on base. He knows what he’s doing in the batter’s box. And … he’s been on a few playoff teams.”
Span could make his Mariners debut Saturday against Minnesota right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.17 ERA), who is 1-3 with a 4.11 ERA in seven career starts against Seattle. Odorizzi pitched six scoreless innings against the Mariners on May 14 at Target Field, but didn’t get a decision in a 1-0 defeat.
The Mariners will counter with left-hander Wade LeBlanc (0-0, 2.65 ERA), who doesn’t have a decision and hasn’t allowed an earned run in four career appearances against the Twins, including one start.
The Twins also got some reinforcements for the weekend series, as All-Star Miguel Sano was activated from the disabled list after missing nearly a month with a strained left hamstring.
“It’s good to come back to my team and help out my team, do my job up here,” said Sano, who started at first base Friday night.
Manager Paul Molitor said he was looking forward to the boost the Twins’ lineup would get from Sano.
“It’s a nice piece to have,” Molitor said. “Our offense has been battling, but our run production hasn’t been very consistent. I like to think he’s coming back refreshed and ready to make an impact.”
In 20 games before being injured, Sano batted .213 with five home runs and 14 RBIs.