The Seattle Mariners announced two huge trades on Monday, sending established major league players to teams in the National League East in exchanges for prospects and salary relief.
Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz went to the New York Mets for major leaguers Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak, along with prospects Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista and Jarred Kelenic.
Kelenic is seen as the key prospect in this trade, but one thing we won’t be doing is watching him at Cheney Stadium any time soon. Kelenic graduated from high school earlier this year and is just 19-years-old. If he has a successful, natural progression through the minor leagues he would reach Triple-A in late 2021 or 2022.
But the two pitchers in the deal could help the Rainiers this year.
Justin Dunn is a starting prospect with good velocity, and the Mets promoted him to Double-A fairly early last season. He made 15 starts for their Binghamton club, going 6-5 with a 4.22 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 89.2 innings pitched. It sounds like he’ll open the 2019 season with Double-A Arkansas, and hopefully he’ll get off to a good start there and earn a promotion to Tacoma during the season.
A hard-throwing reliever, Gerson Bautista pitched half of the 2018 season at the Triple-A level, for Las Vegas. He even pitched at Cheney Stadium once, on May 19 (the Rainiers whacked him around, scoring two runs in 2.1 innings). Bautista made his MLB debut in 2018, and could possibly win a major league bullpen job with a good spring training in March. But that’s a long time from now, and at this point it’s impossible to determine the makeup of the Mariners bullpen. If not with the Mariners, Bautista will be with Tacoma.
In the other deal, the Mariners sent Jean Segura, James Pazos and Juan Nicasio to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for major league first baseman Carlos Santana and former top shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford.
Crawford is coming off a disappointing and injury-riddled rookie season. I’m sure the Mariners are hoping that he shows well (and healthy) in spring training and wins the starting shortstop job. But he does have minor league options left, and if the M’s decide Crawford needs more of that proverbial minor league seasoning he’ll be here in Tacoma.
The two trades serve as a real blocker for Tacoma slugger Dan Vogelbach. Both Santana and Bruce are probably best suited as designated hitters, and Ryon Healy is still on the Mariners roster (at blog posting time), so there is no opening for Vogelbach. He is out of minor league options and must make the big league team out of spring training or else be exposed to waivers.
In a rebuild year, this seems like the perfect time to let Vogelbach DH every game and see what he can do. But the team has acquired players to block that opportunity, for now.
- Here are the final stories with reaction from the players and Jerry Dipoto on the Robinson Cano trade and the Jean Segura deal.
- The Mariners released pitcher Casey Lawrence to allow him to sign with a team in Japan. Lawrence has been very successful as a starting pitcher for Tacoma the last two years, but when he was called up to Seattle they moved him to long relief and he struggled in that role. Hopefully he’ll do well in Japan (while making a very nice living).
- Seattle found its major league catcher by trading reliever Alex Colome to the Chicago White Sox for receiver Omar Narvaez.
- Wise friend Larry Stone has an excellent column on the Mariners teardown-and-rebuild. One thing to add to the discussion: there is added pressure on the Mariners minor league player development department to instruct the incoming talent – especially at the lower levels of the farm system.
- There are many stories on the Cano trade. Keith Law looks at the deal (ESPN+ required), with an emphasis on the prospects the Mariners received.
- Also at ESPN+, Buster Olney reveals his take on the deal and suggests that Kyle Seager is the next to get moved. Personally, I think they should keep him and hope for a bounce-back season, and then decide what to do.
- Baseball Prospectus has an analysis of the trade.
- Fangraphs looks at the prospects that the Mariners added in the Cano trade, and Jeff Sullivan writes up the Segura deal making it clear that the Phillies were the only team truly interested in him.
- The News Tribune attempts to track the Mariners roster.