Mariners deal Winn for new battery

Mariners deal Winn for new battery

SEATTLE -- The Mariners traded a switch-hitter for a battery on Saturday evening, sending outfielder Randy Winn to the Giants for catcher Yorvit Torrealba and pitcher Jesse Foppert in the first of two trades on the day prior to the non-waiver trading deadline.

The first deal presumably creates an opening in left field for 23-year-old Chris Snelling, but unless there is an injury during the next week, the Mariners must keep the left-handed hitter in the Minor Leagues for another six days. He was sent to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday and must stay there for 10 days -- barring an injury.

About an hour after that trade was announced, the Mariners swapped catcher Miguel Olivo to the Padres for catcher Miguel Ojeda and Minor League pitcher Nate Mateo.

Ojeda, who has been playing for the Padres' Triple-A team in Portland, Ore., will join the Mariners Sunday in Seattle, at which time general manager Bill Bavasi and his staff, along with manager Mike Hargrove, will decide the makeup of the 25-man roster, which may include three catchers for the time being.

Wiki Gonzalez remains with the team.

Also, the Mariners might promote Jamal Strong from Tacoma and then make another roster move on Saturday in Chicago when Snelling can be recalled.

The Winn deal registered much higher on the interest scale because of his versatility and contributions the past two-plus seasons. He became a Mariner prior to the 2003 season when he was acquired from the Devil Rays as compensation for manager Lou Piniella.

"Several teams had some interest in Randy, but we thought this was the best deal for us," Bavasi said. "It gives us a pitcher with upside, and a catcher that can contribute right now. The deal also allows us to expose some of our young [outfielders] at the Major League level on a daily basis."

The Twins, Yankees and Cardinals also expressed interest in Winn, but didn't offer a pitcher good enough to satisfy the Mariners.

"[Foppert] is the guy who has a better upside than any pitcher we talked to other clubs about," Bavasi said. "There were some decent young arms, but none with Jesse's upside."

Foppert, 25, has a Major League record of 8-9 with a 5.00 ERA in 27 games, including 23 starts -- two of them with the Giants this season. He was a rising star in the organization before being stopped in his tracks with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, costing him almost the entire 2004 season.

The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder started the '05 season in the Giants' Minor League system (Class A San Jose and Triple-A Fresno) before being recalled on June 14 to start against the Twins.

He went on the disabled list July 1 because of a strained neck, was activated on July 24 after a rehab assignment with San Jose, and was optioned to Fresno. He pitched one inning of relief on Monday against Nashville.

Bavasi said Foppert would come to Seattle for a physical exam and then be assigned to one of the Mariners' Minor League clubs.

"It is a gamble, but we could end up with a real fine pitcher," Bavasi said. "He was on his way to having a real nice career prior to Tommy John surgery."

Torrealba, 27, played in 34 games with the Giants this season, batting .226 (21-for-93) with eight doubles, one home run and seven RBIs. He had been the most recent player to hit a triple in his first MLB plate appearance -- September 5, 2001 -- until Mariners rookie Yunieski Betancourt did the same thing against the Tigers Thursday night at Safeco Field.

Torrealba has played his entire career in the Giants organization, developing a reputation as a rock-solid defensive catcher. He has a career .996 fielding percentage -- five errors in 1,226 total chances -- and three passed balls in 206 MLB games.

When the dust had settled later Saturday night, some 15 hours before the 1 p.m. PT trading deadline, Bavasi said it was tough trading Winn and Olivo.

"Part of what you want to put together in the clubhouse are guys with good makeup and work habits, and Randy is one of those guys," Bavasi said. "He's a talented player and it's not easy moving Randy. But for us, it was not only a question of what we could get back in trade, but [an opportunity to] turn the club over a little bit."

Winn gave the Mariners a .287 batting average, 31 home runs and 193 RBIs during his 416 games. But the Seattle outfield needs more punch, and perhaps Snelling can deliver it. Snelling also has a stronger throwing arm than Winn.

There was a sense earlier in the day that Winn would be traded because he wasn't in the starting lineup against the Indians. Bavasi confirmed that the pending deal with the Giants was the reason.

"By [Saturday morning], we had gotten it down to a couple of clubs and didn't think it was right for anybody to let him play," Bavasi said.

Olivo, however, did play, going 0-for-3, leaving him with a .151 batting average.

The high-end catcher acquired from the White Sox a little more than a year ago in the Freddy Garcia trade never reached a high level with the Mariners.

"A lot of us got to like him quite a bit and wanted to see it work for him," Bavasi said. "We just felt that it was in everyone's best interests to give him a new lease on life and channel our energies in developing [Rene] Rivera, [Rob] Johnson and [Jeff] Clement.

"It was a real tough move to make because [Olivo] is such a nice guy."

Mateo, described by Bavasi as "a young, hard-throwing right-hander with a 'plus' curve and command that needs to continue to develop," will stay in Double-A, moving to the San Antonio Missions.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.