Potential Player of Interest: Brandon Maurer | The Process Report

Potential Player of Interest: Brandon Maurer

Another rumor has surfaced linking Ben Zobrist to the Mariners.

Jason Churchill, of Prospect Insider, among other places, is the latest to report on a potential Zobrist trade. While second basemen Nick Franklin is presented as the key to such a deal, Churchill offers right-handed pitcher Brandon Maurer as another player who could be involved. The Rays have been connected to Franklin for the better part of six months, dating back to the David Price negotiations, so his inclusion is no surprise. Maurer, on the other hand, is a welcomed wrinkle to these otherwise stale talks.

Understanding why the Rays might fancy Maurer requires little work. He is tall and broad-shouldered, almost the archetypical image of an innings sponge. His fastball, lively as it is, can touch into the upper-90s in short spurts. Likewise, his arm strength is such that his slider—his secondary pitch of choice—checks in around 90 mph. Maurer also throws a curveball and a developing, if inconsistent circle changeup, giving him a deeper arsenal than one would expect from a current reliever.

Nonetheless, there are some roaches in Maurer’s house. Most notably, he’s in the bullpen right now due to a combination of his injury history and ineffectiveness as a starter. To break it down statistically: in Maurer’s 21 big-league tries, he’s recorded just five quality starts. Part of the problem is an inability to get left-handed batters out, which traces back to his lagging changeup.

In a sense, Maurer compares favorably to past Rays acquisitions, like Chris Archer and Nate Karns. He has the raw stuff to become a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse, but his shortcomings could leave him better positioned as a late-innings reliever. The injury concerns and lack of success as a starter are worrisome, but think of it this way: without those flaws, Maurer wouldn’t be potentially available in the first place.

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