Opinion: Seattle Mariners offseason trade report card


Austin Lane, For The Observer

After finishing last season with a final record of 89-73 and missing the playoffs for the 17th straight season, the Seattle Mariners faced a tough decision this offseason. General Manager Jerry DiPoto and the rest of the organization chose to have the Mariners gutted from the inside out, trading 11 players so far this offseason. Many fans are split on this decision to rebuild, with some being happy they’re finally doing something they feel the team has needed for a long time in order to make the playoffs, and others feeling that DiPoto is betraying the fanbase by sending away their favorite players for younger talent. Looking at each trade value-wise, some ended up being good for the future of this team, while others were a bit of a reach. Let’s start over from the beginning and reflect.

Seattle Mariners trade C Mike Zunino, LF Guillermo Heredia and LHP Michael Plassmeyer to Tampa Bay Rays for CF Mallex Smith and CF Jake Fraley.

Zunino is a great defensive catcher, earning Wilson Defensive Player of the Year for the Catcher position for 2018. His bat is where he came up short however, batting just .201 last season and having twice as many strikeouts as he had hits (150 to 75). After posting a 1.1 in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2017 (8th on the team), Heredia finished with a -0.1 WAR in 2018 (4th from last on the team). Mallex Smith finished last season with a 3.5 WAR, second on the Tampa Bay Rays. All in all this was a great move by Jerry as he sent away two players showing no signs of improvement or promise, and got back a speedy CF that can hit for contact and is still developing as a player.

My grade: A

Seattle Mariners trade LHP James Paxton to New York Yankees for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson and CF Dom Thompson-Williams.

After suffering yet another injury in a game on July 12 against the Los Angeles Angels, after pitching only 17 pitches and giving up three earned runs, James Paxton would return later in the month on July 30, shutting out the Houston Astros over seven innings in one of his best performances on the season. But on August 14, at Oakland, Paxton threw 13 pitches, gave up two runs, a home run, and re-injured himself. On the other side of the trade is one of the biggest prospect names in the majors right now, Justus Sheffield. He’s number 41 on Baseball America’s list of top 100 pre-2018 prospects. Last season in AA and AAA leagues he finished with an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 2.48. His pitching shows potential, but in the end, this trade is risky giving up a good starter for one that Seattle hopes will be a great starter once he’s fully developed.

My grade: C+

Seattle Mariners trade RHP Alex Colome to Chicago White Sox for C Omar Narvaez.

I’m a little surprised that Jerry DiPoto didn’t want to keep Colome for one more season to be the temporary closer. Colome had his second-best season in his career outside of his 2016 all-star season. Narvaez is the complete opposite of Mike Zunino as he can hit .275 and is actually capable of doing something other than hitting a home run or striking out at the plate. Another young and promising player that has room to get better and DiPoto’s GPA has just gone back up.

My grade: B+

Seattle Mariners trade SS Jean Segura, RHP Juan Nicasio and LHP James Pazos to Philadelphia Phillies for 1B Carlos Santana and SS J.P. Crawford.

Jean Segura was one of, if not the best hitter on the Mariners last season, and outside of Nicasio and Pazos, this trade screams culture change to me. DiPoto saw the internal problems of the clubhouse in 2018, reported to be mainly between Jean Segura and Dee Gordon, and got to work fixing said problem. J.P. Crawford is another prospect that is supposed to be a good player, but you never know which guys will pan out the way you hope. If there was a problem in the dugout between the two, I would’ve rather seen Gordon get traded than Segura, but in the end I understand the trade. It’s just unfortunate it had to happen.

My grade: C-

Seattle Mariners trade 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz and cash to New York Mets for RF Jay Bruce, RHP Anthony Swarzak, RHP Gerson Bautista, CF Jarred Kelenic and RHP Justin Dunn.

In the blockbuster trade of the offseason, DiPoto traded away Cano, the player that came to Seattle when they had basically nothing, and Edwin Diaz, the undisputed number one closer in the major leagues. Getting rid of Cano is huge as his contract was way too high, he is getting old and his production next season is questionable. It’s unfortunate that it took diaz to get rid of Cano, but relief pitchers are the most inconsistent position in all of baseball. In return, outside of Jay Bruce, the Mariners got a slew of young talent, headlined by Jarred Kelenic. Kelenic was the sixth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft, was named MVP of USA Baseball’s U-18 team that won gold at the Pan American Games, played in the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game, and played for Team USA in 2017, winning a gold medal for the second consecutive year. Time will tell if this trade was a good one, and it very well may end up being the best trade DiPoto has made in his time in Seattle, but for now, it’s rough to get rid of two of your best players.

My grade: C

Cleveland Indians Trade DH Edwin Encarnacion and Future Considerations to Seattle Mariners; Seattle Mariners Trade 1B Carlos Santana to Cleveland Indians; Tampa Bay Rays Trade cash to Seattle Mariners.

In a three-way trade, DiPoto traded away Santana, a piece in the trade earlier this offseason with the Phillies, for Cash from Tampa Bay and Encarnacion from Cleveland. Encarnacion will either be the team’s DH for next season, or DiPoto could flip him in a trade for other prospects later this offseason as it doesn’t make much sense to keep an old veteran when the game plan seems to be getting young prospects.

My grade: C

Milwaukee Brewers traded RF Domingo Santana to Seattle Mariners for LF Ben Gamel and RHP Noah Zavolas.

I may be biased in my grading on this trade, but man this one stung. My favorite player on the Seattle Mariners, through all the young talent, older veterans, new guys, old guys, was Ben Gamel. I will never forget in 2016 when the Mariners were making a push for the playoffs, and Ben Gamel (who we had on the team from a trade with the Yankees for only about a month at the time) hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to tie up game 161 on the season against the Athletics. I was at that game and had never heard Safeco Field explode like that. It sounded like CenturyLink Field during a regular season Seahawks game. Domingo Santana is coming off an injury-ridden season, and looks to bounce back to where he was two years ago, when he hit .278 and 30 home runs. But I guarantee Santana will never have a moment in my heart like the one Gamel did.

My grade: D

Overall GPA: 2.33