As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Seattle Mariners: 43-41, 3rd in the AL West
Despite going 17-11 record and being nine games over .500 by the end of May, the Mariners find themselves 9.5 games out of first place in the West after a 10-18 June swoon. Seattle has struggled with significant injuries since the beginning of June, with ace Felix Hernandez and relievers Charlie Furbush and Nick Vincent all currently on the disabled list.
Seattle remains one of five teams within 2.5 games of the second Wild Card spot in the American League, meaning they’ll likely try to make some moves before the August 1 deadline. Hernandez is expected back after the All-Star break, solidifying a rotation that has dealt with struggles from Hisashi Iwakuma, Wade Miley and Nathan Karns.
Karns was recently moved to the bullpen, with James Paxton and recent addition Wade LeBlanc stepping into the rotation. Even with these changes, the Mariners will likely try to make some more pitching moves within the next month.
What moves have they made so far?
The Mariners made three trades before the beginning of July, with a focus on adding pitching depth. In addition to acquiring LeBlanc from the Blue Jays for a player to be named later or cash on June 22, the club obtained right-hander Zach Lee from the Dodgers in exchange for infielder Chris Taylor.
LeBlanc has allowed just two earned runs in 12 innings for Seattle since the deal, and Lee could factor into the rotation mix later in the season. Lee is a former top prospect in the Dodgers’ system, but has never made the majors.
Are they buyers or sellers?
Barring another terrible month, the Mariners will look to buy before August 1. Pitching is obviously the team’s major area of need, though the return of Hernandez will ease some of the stress on the current staff.
The rotation is an obvious area of focus, though the market for available starters is weak this year. Seattle’s low-ranked farm system likely takes them out of the running for the top starters available this summer, but the Mariners could be in contention for middle-of-the-rotation or back-end pieces.
The Mariners are also known to be looking for relief pitchers, though they apparently had no interest in a return engagement with Fernando Rodney, who was traded from the Padres to the Marlins last week. Seattle already made on addition by signing Tom Wilhelmsen to a major-league deal, but is likely to consider other middle relievers as well.
What moves could they make?
Seattle has not yet been specifically linked to any starters, but is known to be surveying the market. While top arms like Rich Hill and Jake Odorizzi are likely out of the M’s reach, there are lesser names available.
Twins righties Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco are available, as are Matt Garza (Brewers) and Jeremy Hellickson (Phillies) in the lower tier of rotation trade candidates.
New general manager Jerry Dipoto has consistently brought over his favorites from his time in Anaheim, so the Mariners could look to acquire Hector Santiago or Matt Shoemaker if the Halos decide to break into a full fire sale. The Angels have not signaled yet that they will be willing to trade any of their starters, but could make them available for the right price.
Seattle’s contention window is now in the primes of Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager, so the team should like to make some deadline deals while the chance exists. The Mariners were busy last year under their old regime, dealing away Dustin Ackley, Mark Lowe and J.A. Happ within the 48 hours before the deadline.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, their farm system is one of the worst in baseball. Top prospect Alex Jackson has struggled mightily all season, and right-hander Edwin Diaz looks to be a viable major-league reliever after originally projecting as a starter. Seattle could theoretically deal away some of its lower-level minor-leaguers, though teams with available starters will likely have stronger offers on the table.
Dipoto has been extremely active since taking over the M’s last winter and may continue to be, albeit with limited resources. A creative, money-eating deal for someone like Santana or Nolasco might make the most sense.