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Trade follow-ups

I was recently asked by friend of the site Mike Putnam (hi, Mike) for some info on how former Mariners who were traded way since last season were doing as compared to the guys they were traded for. That's a bit of an involved question, really, since by this point a few guys have been traded for other guys who have since been traded for yet other guys. So, since we're in the All-Star break, this seems a good time to do a dive into it.

Going back to the end of last season, the Mariners have made 16 trades involving 37 players (players involved in more than one trade counted once for each trade). Many are minor leaguers, of course, whose value is still to be determined, so this is not intended as a definitive "who won/who lost the trades" analysis. More of a "how's it working out so far" kind of thing. Though, really, some winners and losers can be pretty well judged by now.

Traded Away

Player (minors level) 2019 stat line
Mike Zunino .182/.236/.324
Guillemo Heredia .235/.321/.353
M. Plassmeyer (A+) 3-2, 2.38, 1.151
James Paxton 5-4, 4.01, 1.428
Alex Colomé 3-1, 2.02, 0.701
Robinson Canó .240/.287/.360
Edwin Díaz 1-6, 5.50, 1.456
Jean Segura .278/.322/.447
Juan Nicasio 1-2, 5.24, 1.660
James Pazos (AAA) 1-3, 9.98, 2.185
Ben Gamel .251/.336/.387
Noah Zavolas (A+) 5-3, 2.87, 1.171
Josh Stowers (A) .256/.361/.396
Jesús Orzia (A) 1-3, 5.17, 1.628
Grant Anderson (A) 5-4, 2.75, 1.220
David Freitas (AAA) .362/.439/.512
Ryne Ogren (A) .224/.315/.307
Nick Wells (A+) 1-2, 7.91, 1.552

Traded for

Mallex Smith .238/.304/.362
Jake Fraley (AAA) .305/.354/.661
Justus Sheffield (AA) 2-1, 1.36, 0.939
Erik Swanson (AAA) 0-1, 5.64, 1.612
D. Thompson-Williams (AA) .234/.307/.420
Omar Narváez  .294/.366/.486
Justin Dunn (AA) 5-3, 3.82, 1.274
Gerson Bautista (AAA) 0-0, 10.45, 2.323
Jered Kelenic (A+) .258/.327/.472
J.P. Crawford .277/.347/.466
Juan Then (A-) 0-1, 3.21, 0.857
Domingo Santana  .286/.354/.496
Shed Long (AAA) .282/.346/.471
Tom Murphy .269/.296/.538
Connor Sadzeck 0-1, 2.66, 1.394
Sal Biasi (A) 5-2, 4.62, 1.385
Mike Wright 0-0, 7.31, 1.875
Austin Adams 1-1, 3.47, 1.029

Here we go:

  • Trade #1: C Mike Zunino, OF Guillermo Heredia, and P Michael Plassmeyer to the Rays for OF Mallex Smith and OF Jake Fraley. So far, this one has been great for the Mariners. Mallex had a rough start with Seattle, missing all of spring training with an injury and basically coming into the season cold, but has steadily been picking things up since returning from a 17-day demotion to the minors on May 16th. Before May: .165/.255/.247. Since May 16th: .275/.330/.420, steadily increasing over time. In his last 20 games, he's hit .282/.344/.424, much closer to his career numbers prior to this year (.277/.346/.384) and about what was expected of him when the trade was made. Meanwhile, Fraley tore up the Double-A Texas League, winning Player of the Month honors there in May and earning a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma last month. He's handling Triple-A just fine, batting .305/.354/.661 in 14 games thus far, and we may well see him in Seattle before the summer is out. On the flip side, Zunino as a Tampa Bay Ray is the same as Mike Zunino the Seattle Mariner, currently batting .182/.236/.324 and striking out more than a quarter of the time while performing well as a defensive player. Heredia has transitioned from being used mainly as a defensive replacement to being a more-or-less everyday player with the Rays and is batting .235/.321/.353, almost identical to last year's line with the Mariners. Plassmeyer may well pay off for the Rays down the road; the 22-year-old is making his way up the Class-A ladder, getting promoted mid-season from the Florida State League to the Midwest League and putting up impressive numbers along the way (5-3, 1.97 ERA, 1.081 WHIP, 71 Ks combined). Advantage: Mariners.
  • Trade #2: P James Paxton to the Yankees for P Justus Sheffield, P Erik Swanson, and OF Dom Thompson-Williams. Losing Big Maple was a blow, no question, but he hasn't been for the Yankees what they might have expected. Pax's 2019 numbers are currently 5-4, 4.01 ERA, 1.428 WHIP, 30 BB, 95 Ks. Not bad, but not ace-like. The WHIP and the walks are significantly worse than last year, and as we know, the New York media are not as forgiving as the Northwest version, which can't be helping Big Maple's morale. On the other hand, he is on a contender and has plenty of time to recover his form, next year if not this. Meantime, Swanson has been a bust for the M's, Sheffield is progressing slower than expected, and Thompson-Williams is, you know, OK. Swanson looks hopeless as a starting pitcher; he might have a future as a short reliever, but gets reliably lit up after one go-round through the lineup. His big-league numbers are a little misleading in that they're outlandishly bad (8.04 ERA) instead of just really bad (6.71 FIP) thanks to shoddy Seattle defense behind him, but even in Triple-A he's gotten hammered. DTW hasn't distinguished himself at the Double-A level after looking very good at single-A last year in the Yankees' system. And Sheffield, the real prize prospect, got demoted from Tacoma to Arkansas in May. He was unimpressive in his one big-league game and got smacked around at Triple-A, but has been quite good against Double-A competition, with an Arkansas record of 2-1, 1.36 ERA, and 0.939 WHIP in five starts. Advantage: Short-term to the Yankees, long-term too soon to tell; depends on Sheffield.
  • Trade #3: P Alex Colomé to the White Sox for C Omar Narváez. Huge win for Seattle here. Colomé has been fine in Chicago (3-1, 2.02 ERA, 20 saves), but is already trade bait there while Narváez has been the best offensive catcher Seattle has seen since . . . ever. Defensively he still has a ways to go, but he's already improved dramatically, advancing from liability to almost league-average in half a season. He's under team control for three more years, too. Yeah, the M's could've used a guy like Colomé in their 'pen this year, but this was still a steal of a deal. Advantage: Mariners.
  • Trade #4 (& 14 & 15): 2B Robinson Canó, P Edwin Díaz, and cash to the Mets for OF Jay Bruce, P Anthony Swarzak, P Justin Dunn, P Gerson Bautista, and OF Jered Kelenic. Nobody wanted to see Díaz go. The M's miss him terribly. But I dare say, it was worth it. Bruce and Swarzak are non-factors, they're gone already, part of the sunk cost wrapped up in Canó's ill-advised ten-year free-agent deal (and players received for later trades of Swarzak and Bruce are negligible, one of them is already out of the organization). But Dunn, Bautista, and especially Kelenic figure to be big parts of the Future M's. Dunn is still finding his way at Double-A Arkansas (5-3, 3.82 ERA, 23 BB, 96 K in 15 starts), but clearly has the stuff to succeed and is still just 23. Bautista has looked bad at the big-league level and at the Triple-A level, but still shows potential as a short reliever. Kelenic, still just 19, tore through the South Atlantic League (.309/.394/.586) and earned a bump up to Advanced-Class-A Modesto, where he's been somewhat humbled (.267/.330/.488) in just under 100 plate appearances; he's clearly a future star, though, and will keep climbing the ladder quickly. Dunn and Kelenic were selected for the Future's Game at the All-Star festivities last weekend. As for Canó and Díaz, the New York media has had a few meltdowns on both—Canó is having the worst season of his career by far, with only four homers and an OBP under .300, while Díaz has had a few big-time blown saves that have his ERA sitting at 5.50. To be fair to Edwin, it's four games out of 37 that he's appeared in that account for the damage and he does have 19 saves for a bad Mets team. But the only thing the Mets can claim is good about the trade is that they changed their minds on including Jeff McNeil in the mix. Initially, the Mets were sending McNeil to the Mariners instead of Bautista but then pulled back, opting to turn the middle-infielder into a jack-of-all-trades who was named to this year's NL All-Star team as an outfielder. Advantage: Mariners.
  • Trade #5 & 6 (& 16): SS Jean Segura, P Juan Nicasio, and P James Pazos to Philadelphia for SS J.P. Crawford and 1B Carlos Santana; Carlos Santana and cash to Cleveland for DH/1B Edwin Encarnación and a draft pick. This would be an easier eval had the second deal not happened. The initial phase of Segura and two relievers for Crawford and Santana was great—Crawford has massive upside and Santana is a solid veteran first baseman/DH, albeit with a hefty contract. Losing the All-Star Segura was a mixed bag—he's doing his usual thing this year with the Phillies, though with fewer walks—but he had become a clubhouse problem, and getting Crawford to take his place at shortstop is a plus move for certain. Both might produce similar numbers over the next few years, but Crawford will do it for less money and with a better attitude (we think) and may end up being the better defender too. They'll hit free agency at the same time, but by then J.P. will still be 29 while Segura will be 34. Nicasio was addition by subtraction, he underperformed while in Seattle and continues to do so as a Phillie, and Pazos has spent all season in the minors, most of it with another organization (Philadelphia traded him to Colorado for a Class-A infielder in April). But swapping Santana for Encarnación . . . that made no sense. No matter how good ol' Double-E was while he was here (and he left as the league leader in home runs), he wasn't as good as Santana and had an even higher salary, though on a contract one year shorter in duration. Encarnación was obviously going to be harder to move in a subsequent deal, too; nevertheless, Jerry Dipoto was surprised to find no takers for Double-E all the way through the offseason and spring training and eventually had to eat most of that large contract and swap him for a Class-A prospect he had already once traded away (Juan Then). So it's tempting to evaluate these as separate transactions—Phillie trade good, Cleveland trade bad—but since Santana was acquired for the purpose of being flipped, it seems logical to treat them as a unit. The M's got the centerpiece they wanted in Crawford, but failed to shed the salary they intended and got nothing out of the Santana flip. Advantage: even.
  • Trade #7: OF Ben Gamel and P Noah Zavolas to the Brewers for OF Domingo SantanaThis other Santana has been a good get for Seattle, no question. Though unnervingly strikeout-prone, he's proved to be a solid everyday hitter with pop; his defense is scary, but it's tolerable given the offensive production. Santana was a man without a role in Milwaukee, and Gamel was never going to be an everyday guy here so it was a logical swap. Zavolas might turn out to be good in a few years, but like most Class-A prospects, it's way too early to predict. Good deal for all involved, but for this purpose, advantage: Mariners.
  • Trade #8: OF Josh Stowers to the Yankees for IF Shed Long. Long looks like he could be a steady Major Leaguer in a year or two, either as a utility player or an infielder off the bench. It would be a mild surprise if he produces well enough to be an everyday starting infielder, but it's possible; he has had solid on-base skills in Triple-A. Outfielder Stowers is still in Class-A ball, but may have more long-term upside. Advantage: even.
  • Trade #9: Jesús Ozoria to the Giants for C Tom Murphy. Not connected with the rebuilding effort, this deal involved a low-potential prospect for a short-term upgrade as the No. 2 catcher and is an unqualified success for the M's. Murphy has been terrific; even if he's gone by next season, it was a good trade. Advantage: Mariners.
  • Trade #10: Grant Anderson to the Rangers for Connor SadzeckSadzeck had been DFA'd by the Rangers, who were likely to lose him no matter what, so getting him was cheap—Anderson was a 21st-round draft selection in 2018 and put up decent numbers in his first pro season, but he was definitely expendable as the M's began pulling more experienced arms in for their apparently-season-long bullpen tryout camp. It's been a surprisingly positive move, overall; though currently on the injured list, Sadzeck has been one of Seattle's most effective relievers this year. Yes, yes, that's faint praise, I know, but still. The M's need decent relievers. Advantage: Mariners.
  • Trade #11: David Freitas to the Brewers for P Sal Biasi. Unimportant. Freitas wasn't going to cut it as Seattle's backup catcher and was no loss; Biasi likely won't ever see the bigs. Advantage: even.
  • Trade #12: IF Ryne Ogren to the Orioles for P Mike Wright. Probably as unimportant as the Freitas deal, really, but Wright has been a total bust in the bullpen tryout camp—the M's have DFA'd him twice already and he easily cleared waivers both times—and had enough of a track record that one could have predicted he'd be a bust. Ogren might not amount to anything down the line either, but hey, with him there was a chance, however slight. Advantage: Orioles.
  • Trade #13: Nick Wells to the Nationals for P Austin AdamsWells is a non-prospect that apparently hasn't even suited up for the Nats' minor-league teams yet, while Adams has been a revelation in Seattle. Why he never got a shot in Washington is a mystery, but DC's loss is the Northwest's gain in this case. Though hurt by manager Scott Servais' use of him as an "opener" a couple of times (to predictable effect), he's been very, very good in relief and the M's will welcome him back from the injured list with open arms later this month. Advantage: Mariners.

So in the aggregate, the M's did well enough with all this wheeling and dealing, but botched a few things too. Failing to get value for Carlos Santana/Encarnación was a big misstep; the monetary side of that deal with the Phillies was actually counter-productive in the end, though getting Crawford may turn out to be huge going forward. The Rays deal was brilliant; the Mets deal very good despite losing Díaz, though the flips of Bruce and Swarzak were lousy; and the White Sox and Milwaukee trades for Narváez and Domingo Santana quite positive. Given how poorly the Mets are run, one wonders if a little more negotiating might have succeeded in getting McNeil instead of Bautista, but maybe that's just being greedy.

The next few weeks will see more deals, of course. Now that the July 31 deadline is a for-real-we-mean-it firm deadline for trades, the activity should be fast and furious and nobody trades like Jerry Dipoto trades. Will these July swaps be more positive Omar Narváez-type gets, or more Edwin Encarnación- or Mike Wright-like head-scratchers? We'll see soon enough.

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