Red Sox fleeced Mariners in Wade Miley trade

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Carson Smith
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Carson Smith /

The Red Sox and Mariners made a trade that was considered a fair swap at the time. In 2018, the trade may prove to be a lopsided one.

Wade Miley never found his footing in Boston, nor was he given a chance to.

Acquired by the Red Sox from a trade with the Diamondbacks in 2014, the lefty was brought in as a cheap alternative to replace Jon Lester. Miley didn’t come close to a Lester alternative. In fact, he became a liability most of the time he took the mound.

Miley, 29 at the time, went 11-11 with a 4.46 ERA in a 193 innings pitched in 2015 for Boston. Despite his disappointing season in Boston, he did flash promise through stretches as a member of the Red Sox. This potential is what intrigued Seattle.

Miley also was a cheap investment, on the books for $6 million in 2016, and $8.75 million in 2017 with club option for $12 million in 2018. It was a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for the Mariners.

Jonathan Aro, a young pitching prospect, was also included in the package sent to Seattle. According to Ryan Divish, Aro was a pitcher the Mariners were familiar with.

"Aro, 25, made six appearances in four different all-ups to the Red Sox last season. He went 0-1 with a 6.79 ERA. He was 3-3 with two saves and a 3.04 ERA between Class AA Portland and Class AAA Pawtucket. General manager Jerry Dipoto saw him pitch “a dozen times” when he worked for the Red Sox late last season."

Aro has yet to crack the Major League roster for the Mariners since they acquired him.

What did the Red Sox get in return? Seattle sent left-hander Roenis Elias and productive reliever Carson Smith to Boston.

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Elias was troubled by control issues, and made 20 starts and two relief appearances for the Mariners, going 5-8 with a 4.14 ERA.

Smith was expected to step in right away and produce for the Red Sox bullpen. Smith went 2-5 with a 2.31 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 70 innings.

Despite the general public viewing the deal as a fair swap, many Mariners fans thought the price of giving up side-armed assassin for Miley was too stiff. However, Dipoto was desperate for a reliable starting pitcher.

"“It was tough to give up Carson Smith,” Dipoto said. “We understand that. But without the ability to access the starting-pitcher market that we wanted to access, we needed to deploy something to make that happen.”"

In 2016, the deal looked like a wash for both teams.

Miley had gone 7-8 with a 4.98 ERA in 112 innings pitched. With 18 home runs already surrendered, Miley was on pace to set a career high in HR allowed. The husky lefty was getting knocked around nearly every start.

The Mariners were ready to move on from Miley after just half a season. Miley was traded to the Orioles for left-handed prospect Ariel Miranda. Miranda went 5-9 with a 5.12 ERA in 160 innings for Seattle last year.

While the Mariners were unhappy with Miley’s services, how did the trade fair for Boston in 2016?

Smith was shelved for the remainder of the season with Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm after just three appearances.

Elias looked outmatched in the Majors, posting a 12.91 ERA in less than eight innings pitched.

Last season, both were relatively absent for the Red Sox. Smith was still recovering from surgery, and turned in less than seven innings, though he looked impressive doing so. Elias failed to pitch a full inning in the Majors, and had mixed results in the Minors.

However, 2018 may be the year both promising pitchers make significant impacts for Boston.

Smith has made significant strides this spring in gaining his strength and control back to pre-Boston form, striking out nine and surrendering two earned runs in six innings. He told Chris Mason of the Salem News how he feels like he’s close to regaining full form.

"“Honestly I feel like I was pretty close to where I was (prior to surgery),” the 28-year-old Texan said. “I still pitched the same regardless of where my velocity was. I’ve never been a guy that’s going to overpower a guy with my fastball anyway. That’s not my swing-and-miss pitch, so I usually depend on my slider for that. I’ve just gotta focus on disguising the slider and mixing it in when I can.”"

While Smith, 28, hasn’t reached his top form yet, he has looked impressive in his outings. He has impressed the Red Sox enough to earn a setup or late-inning role, manager Alex Cora told CBS.

The Red Sox have been impressed with Smith, but have been equally impressed with Elias.

Yesterday’s outing was the first bad one for Elias. He gave up four runs in 2/3 IP. But before yesterday’s tough outing against the Blue Jays, Elias hadn’t given up a run in spring training. Elias has looked promising for the Red Sox, pounding the strike zone with a powerful fastball.

If the 29 year old continues to impress, he’ll have a chance to make the Opening Day roster as a lefty option in the pen, but he must improve his control. He’s walked eight in 8 2/3 IP.

This season will be judgment day for the outcome of the Miley trade. Considering Miley lasted only half a season in Seattle, the Mariners didn’t win the trade.

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However, if Smith and Elias turn in very productive seasons in their respective bullpen roles, the Red Sox could come away from the Miley trade with an absolute robbery. It’ll depend on the 2018 performances from Miley, Smith and Elias, but from afar, the Red Sox fleeced the Mariners in the 2016 trade.