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January 14, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Roster move: Mariners acquire lefty Mike Kickham from the Cubs (updated 7:30 p.m.)

The Mariners have made a minor trade, acquiring lefty reliever Mike Kickham from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league right-hander Lars Huijer. To make room on the 40-man roster, lefty Anthony Fernandez was designated for assignment.

Kickham actually never pitched for the Cubs, he was claimed off waivers from the Giants in December. The Cubs then placed him on waivers on Jan. 9 when they signed outfielder Chris Denorfia.

Kickham, 26, spent his entire career in the Giants organization. He spent most of last season with Class AAA Fresno, going 8-8 with a 4.43 ERA in 27 starts. He was fourth in the PCL in strikeouts with 131 .

Here’s his big league stats …

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Kickham has a minor league option left and this is likely a move that provides organizational depth for Class AAA Tacoma, while also having a lefty relief option.

From an AL scout on Kickham: 

“I put a middle relief grade on him this past year. He  sat low 90s, working 89-93 in a starting role. There’s some power to the stuff and think velo could tick up out of the pen. SL will flash plus at 84-88. He didn’t show me a single change in the start I saw in Tacoma this year. Occasional show-me curveball that I’d scrap in the pen.  He has some deception in the delivery as well, but it’s not a great delivery and I don’t believe there’s enough feel, command, or ability to hold the stuff to start. I still think he’s a good bet to make it someday as a reliever.

It’s an easy comp because of the name, body, left-handedness, stuff, etc. but he’s always reminded me of Michael Kirkman with a tick better command, a tick less stuff.”

From an NL scout on Kickham: 

“Lefty with solid stuff, has always struck a solid number of guys out, but hasn’t turned the corner to major leage success yet.  He can start but his best hope might be as a reliever.  Gives Seattle left-handed depth as both a starter or reliever.  I will be interested to see if they try to tweak him as a starter or just move him to the pen outright in hopes that he becomes part of the pen at some point (along with guys like Luetge).  I saw a solid changeup out of him, although I agree that he’d be better off picking one breaking ball and hoping the stuff plays up (especially the fastball/slider) and outweigh some of the concerns about command.  He’s got that funkiness that tends to work for LHPs in a pen role.”

 

Huijer, 21, went 6-9 with a 5.08 ERA in 28 games (24 starts) with A Clinton and A High Desert last season. The Dutch native has combined to go 17-17 with a 4.48 ERA in five minor league seasons. He was signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent on June 1, 2011.

Fernandez, 24, went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA (11 ER, 25.2 IP) in 5 starts with AAA Tacoma last season before going on the disabled list with a left elbow injury. He had season-ending “Tommy John” surgery on his left elbow May 22 performed by Dr. James Andrews. Fernandez has started his throwing program this offseason.

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