JULY 21, 2017: ACQUIRED LHP MARCO GONZALES FROM ST. LOUIS
I’ll admit it, I was one of the many Mariners fans who were extremely skeptical of this deal. But you know what? I was wrong. We all were. Marco Gonzales appears to be the real deal, and I’d much rather have a good starting pitcher than an exciting outfielder with a ton of raw power.
Letting Tyler O’Neill go did hurt, and it still stings a little to this day. Once regarded as Seattle’s second best prospect, trading O’Neill straight up for Gonzales felt like a massive overpay that came from mere desperation. The M’s had a well-documented case of the ouchies with their rotation throughout the 2017 campaign, and starting pitching was absolutely needed if they wanted to remain in playoff contention. O’Neill was seemingly a great piece to include in a package for someone of the All-Star variety, instead of a young starter coming off of Tommy John surgery.
Clearly the value fans placed on O’Neill was not shared by the rest of the league, and for good reason. O’Neill showed no signs of being more than a high power, high strikeout player that only served his worth on a highlight reel. While he showed some flashes of greatness in 2018, O’Neill backed up this projection by hitting for a .500 slugging percentage but also striking out at an abysmal 40.1% clip in 61 games.
In Seattle, Gonzales was arguably one of the American League’s best pitchers, aside from a poor August. Only two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Gonzales is well ahead of schedule in production and may only get better from here. That’s really exciting, and all credit goes to Jerry Dipoto for taking that kind of risk on him.