For most Mariners fans, there are 2 options on how to attack this off-season. Either they need to rebuild, or truly go all in. However, there may be another option.
Actually, there is absolutely another option. The Mariners could, for lack of a better term, stay the course. GM Jerry Dipoto can go out and continue to find value on the trade market, and slowly raise the floor of the team for 2019.
However, there is one other option that almost nobody is considering: a soft rebuild. So what the heck is a soft rebuild? Before we answer that, we should define a rebuild so you can distinguish the difference. A full rebuild would require trading almost every valuable piece between now and the end of 2019. This includes Edwin Diaz, Mitch Haniger, James Paxton, etc.
You are not trying to win in 2019 or even 2020. Anybody who helps you recoup any young MLB talent or good prospects would be shipped away. In short, it is a fire sale. We discussed all these options on the Sodo Mojo Podcast, which you can listen to by clicking here or subscribing on iTunes or Google Music.
So that’s a rebuild. A soft rebuild is different. Instead of a scorched earth mentality, you trade a select few veterans, in hopes of getting players who could help in 2019, along with some nice prospects to boot.
For example, what if the Mariners decided to trade Edwin Diaz this off-season? Would it suck to lose Diaz? Absolutely. Could it be worth it? Absolutely. Diaz is coming off a phenomenal season, and with 4 years of club control left, his value may never be higher.
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Consider what ELITE relievers like Diaz have fetched in recent years. Aroldis Chapman netter the Yankees Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford. That was for just 3 months of Chapman. You are getting 4 years of Diaz.
Andrew Miller, again traded by the Yankees, netted them Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen. Even this year, Brad Hand got the Padres Francisco Mejia, a Top 15 prospect in all of baseball.
Trading Edwin Diaz could provide significant value to both the minor league system and the major league team. You won’t find anybody better than Diaz, but Alex Colome is more than qualified to close games, and the Mariners have a slew of young relievers ready to go in the minors.
Of course, Diaz is the best option, but he isn’t the only. James Paxton could be a player to dangle as well. However, he will be significantly harder to replace than Diaz. If Dipoto can find a package somewhere close to what the Rays got for Chris Archer, it makes a lot of sense.
In that deal, the Rays got Austin Meadows, Shane Baz, and Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow and Meadows are highly touted prospects who are already in the major leagues. Baz was a first round pick in 2017. Paxton is every bit as good as Archer. In fact, the numbers will tell you he is indisputably better. And as far as upside starters are concerned, he will be the cheapest one on the market.
Trading off your major league roster to get younger in spots is a strategy that can absolutely pay dividends. And while some will see it as the Mariners “riding the fence”, it can put the Mariners in a better place in 2019 and beyond… if it is handled correctly.