We continue to leave our topics of the day up to the “Wheel of Off-Season Acquisitions” and we have landed on a true free agent for the third time in row. Today we take a look at the fit between your Seattle Mariners and Washington State Native, Trevor May.
Trevor May is a 31-year-old, right-handed pitcher from Longview, Washington who has spent the past six seasons pitching for the Minnesota Twins, primarily as a reliever. May has been a prodigious strikeout pitcher since transitioning to the bullpen full time, posting a 13.2 K/9 mark over the past four seasons. He’ll also throw plenty of strikes, averaging just 3.2 BB/9 over the same time period.
Very few pitchers miss bats as well as May does. He ranked in the 98th percentile in K% and the 99th percentile in whiff percentage. He’s the elite of the elite in both categories. But how does he do it? May’s arsenal includes a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a changeup. The heater averages 96.3 MPH and ranks in the 76th percentile in fastball spin rate, something the Mariners have been known to specifically target. The pitch generates an incredible 46.9% whiff rate.
But May’s off-speed pitches aren’t bad offerings either. The slider boasts a 34.4% whiff rate and the changeup gets a swing and miss 38.7% of the time. May has good stuff and had perhaps his best stuff in 2020. But when you look at his run prevention numbers, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect. His career 4.44 ERA and 3.65 FIP are fine, but neither are elite. A closer look shows that his ERA over the past three years is just 3.19 and his FIP is 3.56, but he had some concerning contact trends in 2020.
This season, May ranked in the 8th percentile in exit velocity, 9th in barrel percentage, and 37th in hard-hit percentage, and surrendered 1.9 home runs per nine innings pitched. Seattle got similar results from Anthony Misiewicz this season. May has never been given the closer’s role but has pitched in plenty of high leverage situations.
In all likelihood, May is looking at a two-year contract worth between $15-$20 million total, a rather steep price for a reliever. Jerry Dipoto has made it absolutely clear that the team will spend some money on experienced relievers this off-season, so it isn’t out of the question that they’ll spend their biggest chunk of the off-season budget on an arm like May. He may begin the year as the Mariners closer but should be a massive upgrade to the set-up spot and can fill multiple roles, giving Seattle plenty of flexibility when shopping for other options.
May is a solid fit for the Mariners. We do not know whether or not May is interested in returning home to pitch for his hometown team, but ultimately, the money will be the deciding factor. And for a team looking to raise the floor and possibly contend for a playoff spot in 2021, spending top of the set-up market money for Trevor May might just make sense.