After being embarrassed on national TV, the Seattle Mariners find themselves 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. The team is just days away from expanding its roster, but there are a few things GM Jerry Dipoto can do to improve the team further.
It is important to remember, that in order for Jerry Dipoto to make a trade, any player on the 40 man roster must have cleared revocable waivers. If the player is not on a 40 man roster, they can be traded freely, but must be added to the 40 man before September first to be eligible for the playoffs. Now here are 3 moves the Mariners can make to improve their team.
1. Trade for Brandon Phillips
While no longer an All-Star player, Phillips is still a valuable asset. Phillips is a free agent after this season, so the cost of acquiring Phillips for 1 month would be low. While there is no obvious fit for Phillips to play everyday, he would still make a valuable bench bat who can play 2nd and 3rd. With Robinson Cano hamstring being problematic, adding so insurance makes a lot of sense.
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For his part, Phillips is slashing .289/.329/.425 with 11 home runs and 11 steals. The defense has taken a step back, but is still adequate at both second and third. Being able to replace Cano and/or Seager once a week could help them get right sooner.
Phillips also brings the adored, “veteran presence” and attitude Servais likes on his bench, with playoff experience. Another name to watch is Asdrubal Cabrera. Both have cleared waivers, and Cabrera gives more of a platoon bat around the infield, but an $8 million option that would cost a $2 million buy out.
2. Acquire a non-40-man starter
If we have learned anything over the past 6 weeks, it is that an established big league starting pitcher is out of the question for the Mariners. Dipoto has had success with Erasmo Ramirez and Andrew Albers, and needs to find another arm to help stabilize the rotation. It seems unlikely that a veteran arm will be available to the team, so Dipoto will need to get creative.
It was last season on August 31 that Dipoto took advantage of a 40 man roster crunch, acquiring Ben Gamel from the Yankees. Gamel was going to be taken in the Rule 5 draft that winter, and the Yankees decided to get something for him. The Mariners traded the Yanks 2 low A arms, and Gamel has become, at the very least, a contributing outfielder.
The Mariners could look to do something similar, and one name to keep an eye on is Tampa Bay Rays prospect, Yonny Chirinos. Chirinos, a 23 year old right handed pitcher, is having a fantastic year in AAA. He has a sparkling 2.85 ERA with 115 k’s in 136 innings. He doesn’t have an plus, pitch but uses his 3 pitches well, throwing them all for strikes, as evidence by the mere 22 walks he has allowed thus far.
Chirinos is not on the 40 man roster, and is subject to the Rule 5 draft this winter. There are numerous others who fit this mold, and is one potential ally for Jerry Dipoto to explore.
3. Add another outfielder
On the surface, this seems crazy. Between Guillermo Heredia, Jarrod Dyson, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel, and Leonys Martin, why pursue another outfielder? To be blunt; the offensive output from these players does not equal 3 full time players. Gamel and Haniger have really struggled in the second half. Dyson is on the DL and only has a .683 OPS. Martin has struggled all season. The defense has been great, but this iteration of the Seattle Mariners needs more offensive minded players, at least in 1 outfield spot.
We do not know all the players who have cleared waivers, and a guy like Justin Upton is certainly a pipe dream ( they should still pursue). But finding a veteran bat to at least platoon is doable.