As we approach July 31, 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: 61 - 42, 2nd in the American League West
Is that postseason contention I smell brewing in Seattle? You’re darn skippy it is. Better yet, there’s nothing Jerry Dipoto loves more that a fresh cup of trades in the morning. The general manager has been suspiciously quite this deadline, perhaps either waiting for the best possible moment to strike or maybe he just knows something the rest of us aren’t clued in on. You do you, Jerry Dee.
What moves have they made so far?
This winter the Mariners acquired second baseman Dee Gordon as well as international signing bonus pool money from Miami in exchange for righty pitchers Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert and infielder Christopher Torres. Gordon has proved to be more important than the Mariners could have predicted, particularly when they lost Robinson Canó for the first half of the season, bouncing between second and the outfield. Dipoto also worked some of his best magic, acquiring reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from Tampa Bay in May.
The Mariners have also lost immortal baseball powerhouse Ichiro Suzuki to a position in the front office over one on the field. But despite some shifting in a few of their major roles, Seattle has come together to make a run for October that’ll require a bolstered bullpen and rotation reinforcement.
What moves could they make?
Because of his PED-related suspension in the beginning of this season, Robinson Canó will not be eligible this offseason. He won’t even return to the team until August 14th. That means that Seattle is going to need to acquire some serious offensive power to help nudge them closer to the World Series. Enter: Shin-Soo Choo.
Stay with me on this one.
The Rangers are a lost cause of this season, almost waiting for the vultures to come pick at the carcass of their 2018 roster. Choo’s bat will amp up Seattle’s run support, and despite requiring a bit of a defensive shuffle here and there, could be a graceful waltz between bumping Mitch Haniger to center field so Choo could start is right and benching Heredia, who is sporting a mere .185 batting average. The price of Choo would be prospects, as Texas begins to start Phase One of their rebuild. Depending on how reasonable the Rangers feel like being, there’s a fine possibility Choo could be in Seattle by August.
Seattle has already kicked off their trade deadline season defensively, acquiring right-handed reliever Sam Tuivailala from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for a minor league prospect, right-hander Seth Elledge. Cue applause.
The Mariners don’t exactly have the most dense of farm systems, so any move they make for a particularly big name could be at the sake of trading an active member of their roster. Ryon Healy could very well be that member. Healy currently has five years of team control on him, but if the Mariners decide to develop Canó into a first baseman upon his return, Healy could be one of the most powerful players Seattle has to offer this deadline.
Chris Tillman has been designated for assignment by the Orioles. He’d be a cheap, low cost and low risk signing for the Mariners this summer. But if the goal is to not be too weighted down with veterans, especially ones who were just rocked with a 10.46 ERA, maybe it’s best to wait to winter and see what reinforcements could possibly be needed.
The Mariners have recently been tied to rumors involving Marlins veteran pitching powerhouse, Brad Ziegler. The 38-year old has recently gone through a rough stint, potentially bringing the cost of him down, but has otherwise been a solid part of Miami’s closing crew. With an already veteran-dense pitching staff that includes Colomé and Nicasio, the knee-jerk reaction is the go with younger blood and fresher arms. But there’s also something to be said about having pitching depth that knows how to go the distance, has experienced their share of high pressure situations, and can cooperated and relate to each other in that way. Jeter’s camp will probably do their usual “give us your prospects and maybe also first born children” dance, and depending on that point in the deadline Jerry Dee could buckle on the youngins or try to swing Healy in Miami’s way.
J.A. Happ has already been scooped up by the Yankees, so what looked to be one of the more economical options for the Mariners is gone. Cross that one off the list.
Speaking of pitchers, the Mariners have most recently been linked to interest in Reds’ pitcher and former Dark Night, Matt Harvey. The fifth starter spot has been a little turbulent for Seattle lately, and could be the perfect place for Harvey to anchor down the week. Both Marco Gonzales and ace James Paxton have panache for injury, and could bring some uncertainty come the fall. Paxton has had a season to remember, don’t get me wrong, but his lingering back issue could come back to haunt, well, everyone. Likewise with Gonzales, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery from 2016 and is still getting acclimated back into big league life. Harvey would be in a consistent pace of the momentum the rotation currently has. Basically the most ideal rental situation, if the Mariners want to keep it that way.
All of these pitchers are less of a necessity and more of a luxury. What Seattle needs the most is the bolster their bullpen. Jerry Dee agrees, saying on his podcast that about “75 percent” of the moves the Mariners make will likely be in the theme of relief pitchers. Although no one has been linked to the team as of late, let’s dabble with a tinge of speculation mixed with plausibility.
While Tuivailala is a great start, it’s only scraping the surface of reviving the Mariners’ bullpen. If Seattle is really looking to pick the Marlins’ bullpen dry, closer Kyle Barraclough could be a player that aligns exactly with Dipoto’s interests. The 28-year old currently holds a 2.40 ERA for the year, the bulk of which being the last two difficult outings he’s had. Barraclough came into July with a 1.21 ERA, racking up 39 strike outs over 36.1 innings pitched for the season so far. Another young arm to hold it down at the end of the game wouldn’t exactly hurt, but the Marlins would likely up-charge on Barraclough, thus bringing a potential deal to a stalemate.
The Mariners have been this quiet so close to a deadline for a reason: they’re plotting meticulously. While I don’t expect a firestorm of trades from them as the clock hits 3:58 on the 31st, I do anticipate a big deal going down that gets a name like Harvey or even Marco Estrada on the Blue Jays, who is also set to hit free agency next year.Jerry Dee has a tendency to learn closer towards young players that can give back to the team for more than just a handful of months. However, that tune could change as Seattle has October in their crosshairs for the first time in a large and sad span of year that for the sake of Mariners fans reading this, I won’t mention.