Trade winds keep blowing, but biggest need unmet

The Mariners may be off today, as they prepare for a three-game series in Dallas-Ft. Worth against the cellar-dwelling Rangers, but anxiety week rolls on. The trading deadline looms at 1:00pm PDT tomorrow and it was strongly implied by Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto—as well as simply assumed by most observers—that the Mariners were far from done wheeling and dealing after the two trades last Tuesday.

Having dealt away bullpen anchor Kendall Graveman to the Astros and two low-level minor-leaguers to the Pirates—for infielder Abraham Toro, reliever Joe Smith, and starting pitcher Tyler Anderson—Dipoto addressed one of the two significant areas he was targeting for improvement while diminishing the strength of the bullpen (something that was rectified toady, more on that in a minute). A starting pitcher was a necessity to stop manager Scott Servais from continuing his unhealthy predilection for wearing out the relief corps with bullpen games every fifth day, mission accomplished there, but upgrading production from the second base position remains an issue.

Toro, primarily a third baseman so far in his young career, played second base in yesterday's loss to his former club. But the 24-year-old Canadian has fewer than 100 Major League games under his belt and though he might be a standout in the future, with a career big-league batting line of .197/.280/.373 he doesn't promise much in the present despite his recent power surge (between the Astros and Mariners, Toro has homered in four straight games). So his acquisition did nothing for the M's of today.

Presently, the M's have three players who can start at the keystone (not counting Ty France, who is needed elsewhere): Toro, Dylan Moore, and Shed Long Jr. The combined line for those three guys is .197/.275/.380. Almost any experienced Major Leaguer at the position would be an upgrade. We know Dipoto has been talking to the Kansas City Royals about Whit Merrifield, a stellar player who would be a bona fide impact get for both right now and the next couple of years—Merrifield is under contract through 2022 with a team option for 2023—and we know the Royals won't let him go cheaply. Despite a down year by his standard, the 32-year-old right-handed batter has a history of solid on-base ability and baserunning excellence; plus, he can play not just second base, but pretty much any position on the field, much like Moore. It would figure that, should the M's get Merrifield, at least one of that group of Moore, Long, and Toro would go to KC along with another prospect or two.

The M's have not been linked to Jonathan Schoop, the other remaining second baseman mentioned in the rumor mill, nor are they likely to get Washington shortstop Trea Turner, who could conceivably have been moved to second base. Adam Frazier and César Hernández have already been dealt elsewhere. If Dipoto makes a deal for a middle infielder other than Merrifield, it will be surprising.

The M's did make a trade today, though—they sent reliever J.T. Chargois and Double-A third-base prospect Austin Shenton to Tampa Bay in exchange for reliever Diego Castillo. Chargois, 30, had been surprisingly effective for Seattle, with a sub-1.000 WHIP in 30 innings pitched, and Shenton, listed as the 17th-ranked prospect in the Mariners' system, seems like a player that could've been used in a bigger trade. That said, Castillo is a nice pickup; the 27-year-old Dominican righty has similar numbers to Chargois' and a more consistent track record, plus he's more of a flamethrower and has been serving as the Rays' closer this year.  He figures to essentially replace Graveman in Seattle's bullpen pecking order and, unlike Graveman, is still three years away from free agency.

Looked at in total, here's a capsulized look at what Dipoto has done this week so far:

  • Swapped closers. Graveman and his one-year contract out, Castillo with three-plus years of team control in. Plus move for the Mariners.
  • Swapped unwanted relievers. The Astros agreed to take back Rafael Montero and his remaining salary in exchange for Joe Smith and his. Seattle ends up paying more monetarily, but Smith's bad year in Houston was something of an aberration. Either a plus move or a wash for the M's.
  • Exchanged a well-regarded infield prospect who's two or three years away from the big leagues for one who is perhaps less than one year away from being ready. Shenton may become a good player, but Toro has dominated the minors since 2019 and will either be an option when it comes time to replace Kyle Seager at the hot corner or will be a more valuable trade chip than Shenton. Plus move for the M's.
  • Rented a solid starting pitcher for the low price of a middle relief arm and two fringe minor-leaguers. Tyler Anderson's statistics might not strike you as particularly impressive, but they aren't much different than former Mariner Mike Leake's, and we liked him a lot. Dipoto essentially balanced two months of Anderson's stabilizing consistency with Chargois and a pair of minor-leaguers, Carter Bins and Joaquin Tejada, that are unlikely to see much if any big-league time. (Famous last words, I know.) Plus move for the M's.

So. Not especially exciting, but improvements nonetheless. Now, if we can add Merrifield to this list by tomorrow afternoon, then we might really have something.

Around the leagues

Meanwhile, there's been a lot of movement among big names (and smaller ones) elsewhere. Among the deals made so far (chronological order, starting after the All-Star break)

  • Cubs trade OF Joc Pederson to Atlanta for Class-A 1B Bryce Ball
  • Diamondbacks trade C Stephen Vogt to Atlanta for Class-A 1B Mason Berne
  • Twins trade DH Nelson Cruz and Double-A RHP Calvin Faucher to Tampa Bay for Triple-A RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman
  • Rays trade LHP Rich Hill to New York Mets for injured RHP Tommy Hunter and Class-A C Matt Dyer.
  • Pirates trade 2B Adam Frazier and cash to San Diego for Triple-A SS Tucupita Marcano, Double-A OF Jack Suwinski, and Class-A RHP Michell Miliano
  • Rockies trade RHP Mychal Givens to Cincinnati for Class-A RHPs Case Williams and Noah Davis
  • Marlins trade RHP Yimi García to Houston for RHP Austin Pruitt and Triple-A OF Bryan De La Cruz
  • Marlins trade OF Starling Marte to Oakland for LHP Jesús Luzardo
  • Diamondbacks trade 3B Eduardo Escobar to Milwaukee for Triple-A IF/OF Cooper Hummel and rookie-league IF Alberto Ciprian
  • Cleveland soon-to-be-Guardians trade 2B César Hernández to Chicago White Sox for Double-A LHP Konnor Pilkington
  • Nationals trade RHP Brad Hand to Toronto for Triple-A C Riley Adams
  • Rangers trade OF Joey Gallo, LHP Joely Rodríguez, and cash to New York Yankees for Class-A IF Ezequiel Duran, Class-A SS Josh Smith, Class-A OF Trevor Hauver, and Double-A RHP Glenn Otto
  • Cubs trade RHP Ryan Tepera to Chicago White Sox for Class-A LHP Bailey Horn
  • Royals trade injured LHP Danny Duffy and cash to Los Angeles Dodgers for PTBNL
  • Cubs trade 1B Anthony Rizzo to New York Yankees for Class-A RHP Alexander Vizcaino and rookie-league OF Kevin Alcantara
  • Nationals trade OF Kyle Schwarber to Boston for Class-A RHP Aldo Ramírez
  • Nationals trade RHP Daniel Hudson to San Diego for Triple-A RHP Mason Thompson
  • RUMORED BUT NOT FINAL: Nationals trade RHP Max Scherzer and SS Trea Turner to Los Angeles Dodgers for Double-A RHP Gerardo Carrillo, Double-A OF Donovan Casey, Triple-A RHP Josiah Gray, and Triple-A C Kiebert Ruiz

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