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Mariners deal Austin Nola to Padres as part of seven-player trade

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WOW this one is a doozy!

Los Angeles Dodgers v Seattle Mariners
rounding the metaphorical bases to a warmer climate
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

This is a developing story. We’ll give updates on the trade as we learn more.

A few hours ago, we started to wonder if Trader Jerry was getting back in the swing of things. The call-up of Joe Hudson, and the lack of Austin Nola in the starting lineup, raised a number of questions. Now, it seems, those questions have been answered:

Nola has been a strong hitter in his MLB career, with a 123 wRC+ in 377 PAs, and his positional versatility is a huge boost — he’s played catcher, 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and RF in only 108 games. The Padres will pair him with fellow newly-acquired catcher Jason Castro. Jeff Passan noted the high number of deals that A.J. Preller has made this weekend, which isn’t a huge surprise: The Padres project to have a 40-man roster crunch this offseason, with many more talented players who will need to be on the 40-man or risk being selected in the Rule V draft, so trading those players now allows them to maximize value and make a stab at the World Series this year, too.

Now, what exactly are the M’s getting back? The return is, as yet, unknown. Nola’s impressive debut in 2019, and his even-more impressive start to the 2020 campaign, seems to have cemented him as a valuable piece for years to come. He still has five years of club control after 2020, making the league minimum this year and each of the next two seasons as well. So one would imagine that the Padres are parting with a top-15 prospect in a top-5 minor league system. When we know more, we’ll add to this post.

8:27pm PT update:

Well then! We have the full return, and true to form, it’s a whopper. SEVEN total players are involved:

Nola got plenty of coverage up above, and you’ve probably seen plenty (too much?) of Dan Altavilla in the last few years. Austin Adams, in case you’ve forgotten, is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last fall. The M’s acquired him in May 2019 for Nick Wells and cash, and he looked pretty good in 29 appearances before his unfortunate injury. But he’s a 29-year-old reliever coming off major knee surgery, so while he’s valuable to the right team, Dipoto likely decided he was expendable to this rebuilding squad.

Now, on to the Mariners’ return!

Taylor Trammell

Trammell is the pièce de résistance. The Georgia product was lured out of a Georgia Tech commitment with a $3.2m signing bonus in 2016 FanGraphs pegs him as the #68 prospect in baseball (and the fourth-best in a loaded Padres system), a speedy corner outfielder with a 55 FV hit tool and 55 raw power. After being dealt to the Padres last season, he struggled a little bit, with a 27.1% K% and a .229/.316/.381 slash line. But given his elite wheels and patient approach, Trammell could well make his MLB debut at some point next season.

You might be wondering, do the M’s really need another outfielder? But the idea of “too many outfielders” is a problem Jerry Dipoto would love to have. As ballyhooed as both Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are, the two of them have a combined 92 PA at AA or above (all from Jarred). On a pure talent basis, among the prospects the Mariners could reasonably acquire, they likely identified Trammell as the best option and went from there. Talent wins out, in the end, and you can figure out where the pieces fit together later.

But talk about a whirlwind:

Luis Torrens

Torrens has taken an unusual developmental path. The Padres plucked him out of the Yankees system in the Rule V draft back in 2016, and he spent the 2017 season vastly overmatched in the bigs (which you’d expect out of a 21-year-old catcher who had never played above A-ball). But last season, Torrens hit a robust .300/.373/.500 in AA last season, walking 10.6% of the time. Given that the Mariners’ healthy catchers are currently Joe Odom and Joe Hudson, I’d expect Torrens to get a healthy chunk of playing time the rest of the way.

Ty France

A 26-year-old infielder, France made his big league debut last season after hitting .399 in AAA. That’s not a typo: The San Diego State alum slashed .399/.477/.770 in 76 games, laying waste to the Pacific Coast League. As you might expect of someone with such gaudy numbers, he didn’t quite match them in the bigs (.234/.294/.402). He’s been excellent this year thanks to a .412 BABIP, and given that the Mariners have been using the likes of Tim Lopes at DH, don’t be surprised to see France get some DH hacks in the AL this time.

Andrés Muñoz

There’s no doubt that Muñoz possesses electric stuff. But just how electric?

At every single level, Muñoz has recorded boatloads of strikeouts...and boatloads of walks. In 50.2 MiLB innings from 2017-18, Muñoz had 66 Ks (good!) and 31 walks (not so good!). But he pieced it together in 2019, when he made his MLB debut at the tender age of 20 years old and posted a 3.17 FIP in 23 innings. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2020, however, but still expect this fireballer to find a spot in the Mariners’ bullpen starting next season — perhaps even a spot in the ninth inning?