The Mariners have made their first significant deadline trade and as Jerry Dipoto suggested, it’s both a little bit of a sell and a buy trade, as they’re sending their closer and clubhouse leader, Paul Sewald, to the Diamondbacks in exchange for three players: infielder Josh Rojas, OF/1B Dominic Canzone, and INF Ryan Bliss.
Rojas is the de facto headliner of the this trade and the one with the most major-league experience, having debuted in 2019 and getting scant playing time at the big league level through the shortened 2020 season. He settled in as a regular in Arizona’s lineup in 2021, putting up wRC+ marks of 102 and 108 in 2021 and 2022, respectively, while playing all around the diamond but finding plenty of time at third base. It’s been a rough go for him this year, though - dips in walks, strikeouts, and exit velocity have all combined for just a 61 wRC+ across 216 plate appearances. Defensive metric grade him as a perfectly passable third and second baseman, and he should see most of his playing time in Seattle at the keystone to finish out the year.
Canzone, who will turn 26 later this month, was an eighth-rounder in 2019, as despite a strong track record at Ohio State there were questions about whether that success was translatable to a pro career. Canzone answered those questions by ripping through the low minors and reaching Double-A in 2021. Like Ty France, his Triple-A slugging numbers need to be mitigated a little by remembering he played in the bounce houses of the PCL, with Reno as his home park. But he’s a very Mariners-y hitter who controls the zone well, walking almost as often as he strikes out, with big underlying power but a swing that some scouts find polarizing. With a stacked outfield in Arizona, there wasn’t much room for corners-only Canzone, making him expendable in a deal to the Mariners. MLB Pipeline had him as the D-Backs’ 19th best prospect, while FanGraphs had him outside the Top 30.
Bliss is a middle infielder listed at a petite 5’6” who was Arizona’s second-rounder in 2021, taken out of Auburn. Arizona promoted Bliss aggressively, looking past an 82 wRC+ at High-A in the Northwest League in 2022 and sending him straight up the ladder to Double- and then Triple-A in 2023. Like Canzone, Bliss was solidly blocked by Jordan Lawlar at shortstop, leading the team to slide him over to second base, where many scouts believed he’d find a better home defensively, but perhaps without the pop necessary for the position. Perhaps the Mariners plan to send Bliss to the Jonatan Clase School Of Body and Pop-Building, although the college product is much more maxed out physically than Clase was at his time of signing. Bliss also brings plenty of speed to the basepaths, having swiped 35 bags between both levels this season, and figures to factor into the infield mix in 2024 and beyond.
One other deadline deal so far, although so minor as to not merit its own writeup (or pictures of the players traded from the official account): the Mariners have also apparently traded AJ Pollock to the Giants, along with Triple-A infielder Mark Mathias and cash (to offset Pollock’s salary, one assumes), for a PTBNL or cash. Despite the Giants’ seeming unending fascination with Mariners’ Quad-A infielders, this is unlikely to be much in return for Pollock, who is currently on the 10-day IL with a strained hamstring but eligible to return tomorrow. The major thing the Mariners gain with this trade is a roster spot, which will be necessary in finding room for Rojas and Canzano, both of whom will require spots on the 40-man.
Also, spare a thought for Mark Mathias, and all the players at the deadline being unceremoniously shipped to new cities, families in tow or not, to their new cities.
Mark Mathias just flew four hours to Houston with the Rainiers, landed, found out he was traded, said goodbye to everyone at the baggage claim, and disappeared.— Mike Curto (@CurtoWorld) July 31, 2023