Speedy in Seattle: Mariners reel in Dyson

Veteran outfielder acquired from Royals for Karns

Speedy in Seattle: Mariners reel in Dyson

SEATTLE -- Since his arrival in Seattle, general manager Jerry Dipoto has talked of getting faster and more athletic in the outfield, and the Mariners certainly took another step in that direction on Friday by acquiring speedster Jarrod Dyson from the Royals for starting pitcher Nathan Karns.

Dyson, 32, gives the Mariners a veteran outfielder who can tandem with youngsters Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger in the corner spots after Dipoto traded Seth Smith to the Orioles earlier Friday for starter Yovani Gallardo, while also serving as a quality backup to center fielder Leonys Martin.

Dipoto says he and manager Scott Servais brainstormed about ways to add Dyson since the end of last season in an effort to infuse some electricity into the Mariners' attack.

"We've had many conversations about what a good fit he was as an elite defender who is dynamic on the bases," Dipoto said. "This guy is a fearless basestealer. The combination of Dyson, Martin and [new shortstop Jean] Segura hitting somewhere between the bottom and top of the lineup creates a three-player dynamic on the bases that is different than what the Mariners have had in a long, long time."

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Dyson posted a .278/.340/.388 line with 30 stolen bases in 107 games last year for the Royals. He's averaged 31 stolen bases a year over the past five seasons and his 84.8 percent success rate is second best in the Majors in that span.

The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder is also regarded as an excellent defender with a strong arm. Dyson played mostly center field with the Royals, starting 50 games there, but he also started 21 games in right and 12 in left field last year.

Dipoto expects Dyson to play "fairly regularly" with some combination of him and Martin in left and center field most nights, with Haniger in right field and Gamel and Guillermo Heredia "fighting it out" for additional time. Haniger, Gamel and Heredia all have Minor League options as well, giving the club roster flexibility.

"We feel we have five legitimate center fielders to man our three outfield positions," Dipoto said.

After being used in a part-time role by the Royals, Dyson is excited about getting a chance for more with a Seattle club that just missed the postseason last year at 86-76.

"That's always been my goal, to be an everyday guy," Dyson told SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio. "I know deep down inside I can play in the big leagues every day. I'm looking forward to the challenge, but I'm not going there thinking I have a job sewed up. I have to go take advantage of my opportunities and just be me."

Dyson was part of two World Series teams in Kansas City and would love to play a role in a similar renaissance with Seattle.

"It's going to be nice," he said. "Seeing it develop like that in K.C. and knowing you're a part of it ... to try to bring that to Seattle. If it happens and we see things turn around, it'll be something you always dream of and memories you'll never forget."

Video: DET@KC: Dyson races 22 mph to beat the throw home

Dyson was drafted by the Royals in the 50th round in 2006 out of Southwest Mississippi Junior College, but he developed into a unique weapon for Kansas City and hit .260 with 48 doubles, 29 triples, seven home runs, 101 RBIs and 176 stolen bases in 550 career games.

Dipoto feels the Mariners can afford to rely more on speed and athleticism in the outfield because they get power production from less-typical spots like second base with Robinson Cano and shortstop with Segura, while third baseman Kyle Seager, first basemen Danny Valencia and Daniel Vogelbach and catcher Mike Zunino are all home run threats as well.

"We can still hit a three-run homer," Dipoto said. "But with Dyson, Segura, Leonys, Gamel, Heredia and others, we can also steal a base. The combination of power and speed makes us an exciting team to watch. And the one thing I don't want to sell short is how much attention we paid to run prevention."

Improved outfield defense will help a pitching staff that still could add another starter before Spring Training in February. Dipoto said the team still has the payroll flexibility to pursue another arm.

Karns, 29, was acquired by Dipoto prior to last season and opened 2016 in Seattle's rotation before being moved to the bullpen in late June and eventually finishing the year on the disabled list with a back issue. He was 6-2 with a 5.15 ERA in 22 games, including 15 starts.

Zinkie on Dyson traded for Karns

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
One of the fastest players in baseball, Dyson could earn a roster spot in most rotisserie leagues next season. While the left-handed hitter will likely remain in a part-time role thanks to his lifetime .590 OPS vs. same-sided hurlers, he could nonetheless swipe 40 bases across 450 plate appearances. Dyson should be viewed as a late-round mixed-league draft option, along with speedsters such as Rajai Davis (A's) and Travis Jankowski (Padres).

In Kansas City, Karns has the skills to beat out Chris Young and Mike Minor for the final rotation spot. The 29-year-old can generate his share of strikeouts (lifetime 9.2 K/9 rate), but longstanding control and homer problems may hinder his ability to help shallow-league teams. For those in 15-team formats, Karns is a worthy option in the final rounds of a draft.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.