With the non-waiver July 31 Trade Deadline approaching tomorrow at 1 PM PT, it had been suspiciously quiet on the trade front after GM Jerry Dipoto gave this quote a couple weeks back:
“We’re certainly looking - we’ve made a lot of phone calls, we’re working them - we’re not closing the door on adding position players...we want to get better.”
A minor acquisition in RHP Sam Tuivailala added a ROOGY to the bullpen, but things seemed to be moving slowly. Then, yesterday, Dipoto went into overdrive. Thus far, here’s where the “deadline” moves stand, entering Tuesday morning:
STL - RHP Seth Elledge (RP, formerly of High-A Modesto)
NYY - $1.25 million in international bonus cap space
MIN - RHP Chase De Jong (SP, formerly of AA-Arkansas)
MIn - INF Ryan Costello (1B, formerly of Single-A Clinton)
The trend thus far has been clear - infuse the bullpen with as much impact as possible for as little cost as possible. According to Dipoto, an addition to the starting rotation is unlikely at this stage.
Dipoto just chatted briefly with the media, indicated that he does not anticipate adding a starter.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) July 30, 2018
With the rotation likely set and the bullpen stuffed to the gills, a position player - namely an outfielder - seems the only place remaining for a move. It still seems eminently possible, and Dipoto confirmed as much yesterday.
Dipoto: "We are still ear to the street on we what we can to in terms of adding another position player to the club if that possibility exists. I wouldn't anticipate we are going to do anything else. This is likely it. But you know how we go, it's still possible."— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 30, 2018
Dipoto’s unwillingness to rule out out of the possibility of adding position players is interesting. The offense as a whole posted a wRC+ of 82 from the day Jerry made the initial quote above through Saturday’s 11-5 loss would figure to only increase the likelihood that somebody is brought in. The one position that stands out most obviously as being in need of an upgrade is center field, where Guillermo Heredia ranks 35th of 45 center fielders who’ve recorded 100+ plate apperances with a wRC+ of 67. Obviously Heredia isn’t playing every day because of his bat, but his struggles at the dish have started to outweigh his defense. He’s posted 0.1 fWAR and -0.2 bWAR on the season, and his inability to parlay his speed into stolen bases caps his ceiling. His defense still holds value as a fourth outfielder, but has been severely depressed this season by his being forced into a starting role that the club never intended him to have.
With recent quotes on Félix Hernández being lukewarm at best, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see a starter acquired. That may or may not be addressed simply by the return of Erasmo Ramirez, who has been lights-out in two rehab appearances with Tacoma and was slated to appear again Monday night before inclement weather threw that game into question.
One far less discussed area that the M’s could upgrade, likely for relatively cheap, is their ultility infield spot. While Andrew Romine has relinquished his hold on the “least valuable position player” title, he still sits at -0.2 fWAR and maintains a spot on the roster solely because of his ability to play the left side of the infield. Swapping him out for somebody with a little more offensive upside that would allow the regulars the occasional day off with the added benefit of having them available to pinch hit in a spot of your choosing late in a game during the hunt for a wild card spot where every at-bat counts.
Jerry has quickly established a reputation for getting creative in pursuit of filling holes on his club, and there’s always the possibility of some new sellers emerging if the price is right, but here are a few names that fit the Mariners’ needs and could be with a new team within the next 24 hours.
Center Field: Dexter Fowler, Billy Hamilton, Adam Jones, Cameron Maybin,
Leonys Martin, Whit Merrifield, Tommy Pham
It’s a notably weak market for teams in need of center fielders, and none of these guys really jump out as a perfect fit save maybe one. Fowler, Hamilton, and Maybin may well not provide an upgrade over our current situation while Jones, Merrifield, and Pham are appealing options, but seem unlikely to be moved (the later two mores so than Jones, who could easily fit in with that first group of three). Martín sticks out as the one guy who really fits the Mariners’ needs best as he’s been passable at the plate—he’s running a career high 98 wRC+— and he plays elite defense in center field. The only real knocks on Martín are that a) he’d be a rental, which is something Jerry’s maintained he wants to stay away from if he’s trading real assets and b) it hasn’t even been a year since Jerry shipped Leonys out of Seattle in exchange for a PTBNL or cash considerations. That said, we’ve seen Jerry re-acquire players he’d previously traded away before, like when he brought Jean Segura to Seattle after trading him away from Los Angeles back in 2012.
Starting Pitching: Chris Archer, Zack Wheeler, Wei-Yin Chen, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Tyson Ross, Dan Straily
Archer is obviously the most appealing guy that’s said to be on the market, but between some teams questioning his availability and the team reportedly in the market for him if he even is available, it’s safe to say the Mariners lack the prospect capital to make a deal happen here. The market for starting pitching is always competitive come the deadline, so the front office might have to settle for a buy-low such as Wei-Yin Chen or Dan Straily, although Erasmo could easily out-perform either of those guys rest of season. If Jerry is willing to pay up slightly to acquire a rental arm, Estrada, Garcia, Harvey, and Ross are all free agents after this season (however Garcia has a $10M club option) with Garcia and Harvey likely costing the least based off their performances this year. Lugo provides an interesting option in that he’s been used almost exclusively as a reliever this year, but has been effective as a starter throughout his career. The current front office regime has been known to value spin rates—either particularly high ones or particularly low ones—and Lugo as been a spin rate master since breaking into the majors in 2016. That said, he’s super cheap and controllable in addition to the Mets’ most valuable remaining reliever after they dealt Jeurys Familia to Oakland, so it’s not hard to imagine him being priced out of the Mariners’ range. Lastly, while Zack Wheeler has been rumored a target for the Mariners, his recent uptick in production may but him out of Seattle’s range, particularly as he has one more year of arbitration in 2019.
As noted above, it’s not out of the question, but really, truly - there isn’t much room left.
Utility: Ehire Adrianza, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis, Miguel Rojas
There are actually a handful of pretty appealing options available here. Of this group, Adrianza stands out as the poorest defender, but all provide offensive upside over Andrew Romine. Hechavarria, Iglesias, and Galvis would all be rentals, but Adrianza and Rojas are both controlled through 2020 for a low cost. Adrianza offers a little more versatility in that he’s played a handful of big league innings in the outfield, but I think you take plus-plus defense from Rojas all over the infield over sub-par defense from Adrianza everywhere. Rojas’ wRC+ currently sits at just 83, but he’s posted career highs in Hard hit% and FB% this season, so there may be a little more upside in that bat than we’ve seen so far.
While 1-2 more upgrades would make us all feel a bit better about our chances of holding off the A’s for a playoff spot down the stretch, bear in mind that the offense is set for a major boost when Robinson Cano returns on August 14. With Jerry having already dealt a from the lower levels of the minors, it’s hard to imagine he’ll make a huge splash on deadline day, but between the guys already on the 40-man and the organization’s top prospects, he’s never met a trade he couldn’t put his best effort behind.
We’ll do our best to update this thread as moves come in throughout the day, be they the Mariners or others, starting with last night’s late night deal of RHP Keone Kela going from the Rangers to the Pirates.
The #Rangers receive 23-year-old LHP Taylor Hearn & a PTBNL from the #Pirates for Keone Kela. Hearn, the @Pirates' No. 7 prospect, has had a strong season for the Double-A @AltoonaCurve. Scouting report, tool grades, video, state & more: https://t.co/ApnAp224p8 pic.twitter.com/PN8o1uNJPF— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 31, 2018
Morning Update: Tommy Pham to the Rays
Update 8:47 AM PT: Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler is on the move. HOW MYSTERIOUS! - John
Marlins have traded Brad Ziegler.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) July 31, 2018
Update 9:28 AM PT: OF Leonys Martín goes to Cleveland - John
Update 10:25 AM PT: Ziegler to the Diamondbacks - John
Source: Dbacks are sending Double-A reliever Tommy Eveld to the Marlins in the Ziegler trade.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) July 31, 2018