The Seattle Mariners are sellers this off-season. Kinda. I think. Maybe. Well today, we discuss one of the teams who could be interested in James Paxton, aka “The Big Maple”.
Yes, the Mariners are probably going to trade James Paxton. However, with the latest Mike Zunino for Mallex Smith trade, there is some question as to what types of trades Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto are looking to make.
In a rebuild, you typically deal your Major League talents for minor leaguers. However, the Mariners have refused to call their plan this off-season a rebuild. Instead, we have heard terms like “re-imagining” or “re-tooling”. Nobody can be sure of what they actually mean. But we can offer an educated guess.
Basically, it appears the Mariners are more interested in trading their short-term assets like Zunino, Paxton, and Alex Colome, for more long-term major league assets. In the Smith/Zunino trade, they traded 2 years of 28-year-old Mike Zunino for 4 years of 26-year-old Mallex Smith.
It appears, at least on the surface, that Dipoto is actually trying to lengthen the window another couple of years by getting a little younger and cheaper. Why bother? Our hypothesis is that ownership wants to remain semi-competitive while bad contracts fall off the books.
After 2019, Felix Hernandez and Juan Nicasio will be gone. After 2021, Kyle Seager, Dee Gordon, and Mike Leake will all be off the books (if they aren’t traded before then). So is it a great plan? No. But it does appear to be where they want to go.
But now back to James Paxton. With just 2-years of club control remaining, Paxton sadly does not fit into the long-term direction of the Mariners, and his value will never get higher. Every team that thinks it can compete in 2019 and 2020 will be all over Paxton. But if they follow the model of the Zunino trade, it won’t be prospects coming back for Paxton, at least not as the headliner.
There are literally a dozen or more possibilities. But today, we head to the city of Brotherly Love. Yes, the Philadelphia Phillies who broke out a bit earlier than expected in 2018. They are the reported favorite to land Bryce Harper and potentially Manny Machado. But what could that package look like? Here is our proposal:
You’ll notice, first and foremost, the inclusion of current Phillies CF Odubel Herrera. The Phillies have long been rumored to be willing to move Herrera, particularly for a starting pitcher. Herrera is a good, but not a great player, and fits the mold of a younger, more controllable piece that Dipoto got in his first deal this off-season.
A career .279/.336/.428 hitter, Herrera has been an above-average defensive CF until 2018. However, as 27-year-old, it is highly unlikely that he simply forgot how to play the position, and instead was dealing with an injury for most of the season.
In his 4-year career, Herrera has been incredibly durable, appearing in at least 138 games each season. In his career, he has averaged 15 home runs, 14 stolen bases, 4 triples, and 28 doubles. As he reaches his physical prime, it appears that a power bump could be on the horizon. In 2018, he slugged a career-high 22 home runs.
However, his OBP has slid down over the past 3 seasons. Herrera also has a reputation for making bone-headed baseball decisions. He isn’t stealing bases like he used to. He doesn’t take a ton of walks, and swings-and-misses quite a bit for his profile.
All in all, Herrera is a nice player, but nowhere near enough to bring James Paxton to your town. Enter Adam Haseley. The #8 overall pick of the 2017 draft, Haseley finished the season as MLB Pipeline’s 4th best Phillies prospect. Across High-A and AA ball, Haseley appeared in 118 games where he slashed .305/.361/.433 with 11 home runs and 7 steals.
The 22-year-old LHH posses average or slightly above-average tools across the board. He can handle CF just fine, but may ultimately be best suited for LF. The power tool is his weakest, but he has solid bat speed and an athletic frame to suggest there is more in his frame than he has produced.
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Haseley is a high-floor player, who will be a solid MLB contributor, perhaps as soon as later in the 2019 season. While a nice prospect, he will not be enough to sway the Mariners towards this move, so we keep going with LHP Cole Irvin.
Irvin, a 24-year-old, left-handed starter, was a 5th round pick of the Phillies in the 2016 draft. He was excellent in AAA in 2018, posting a 2.57 ERA in 161 innings. While he doesn’t miss bats at an exceptional level, he did manage to strike out 131 batters in 161.1 innings.
The numbers that will be sure to catch Dipoto’s eyes are the 35 measly walks Irvin allowed and his 1.26 GB/FB ratio. Irvin is your stereotypical lefty who uses his above-average command to make his average weaponry play up. He has all 4 pitches and knows how to use them effectively There is a little Marco Gonzales in him.
Finally, the Mariners get a lottery ticket named Kevin Gowdy. Gowdy was a second-round pick in 2016, who has battled arm injuries as a pro before missing the entire 2018 season with Tommy John. When he was healthy, Gowdy possed a 93 MPH and a solid, above-average slider to go along with a decent changeup.
Scouts believed the prep arm would add velocity as he added strength to his 6’4″, 170 lbs frame. Gowdy earned high remarks for his pitchability and baseball IQ. This, combined with his good stuff and control, as well as the upside, leaves Gowdy as the perfect lottery ticket to round up this package.
Overall, this package gives the Phillies the dynamic 1-2-3 punch with Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, and James Paxton, without sacrificing their prized prospect, Sixto Sanchez. The Mariners gain a solid MLB contributor with 5 years of club control, 2 close to MLB high-floor prospects, and a lottery ticket who has #2 potential 3 years down the line.
The deal also allows the Mariners to shave a little payroll for 2019 and 2020, and give the Mariners even more ammo to trade either this winter or down the road. The Mariners may look for more upside than this package, but all things considered, it seems to be a fair offer to start.