The trades of superstars Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and Jean Segura were all announced Monday. Mariners ace James Paxton was sent to the Yankees and catcher Mike Zunino was sent to Tampa Bay in previous weeks. Seattle has been the busiest team of the offseason, and Dipoto meant business when he mentioned ‘re-imagining’ the roster.
But the re-tooling Dipoto has done definitely seems more like the teardown rumor he recently shut down. Cano, who was arguably the face of the franchise for the past five seasons, is back in New York. Edwin Diaz and Jean Segura, two of the Mariners 2018 All-Star Selections, will be suiting up for other organizations in 2019.
We are not one week into December, and the core group of Mariners that propelled Seattle to an 89-win season are gone. However, Jerry Dipoto does not seem to be done in the trade market. So who is likely to go next?
Enter Kyle Seager. Not only have 2017 and 2018 been his worst years in batting average for his career, but the 31-year-old vet is also coming off his worst offensive season in all three slash categories. Even worse, he is under contract through 2021 where he will make $56 million over the next three years.
Many may ask how on earth we could trade Kyle Seager and his bloated contract. To be fair, many of you may have asked the exact question about Robinson Cano last week.
To unload Cano’s contract, the Mariners had to package him with young star Edwin Diaz to get the Mets to bite. If Seager finds himself on a new team in 2019, this may very well happen again.
But who? Here’s the part that stings. Mitch Haniger is a name that makes sense to other teams to package with Seager.
If the Mariners are truly tearing it down, Haniger may very well leave Seattle. Or, he may be considered the centerpiece of the young core they want to compete within 2021. But if another team were to take on Seager’s contract with his decline over recent years, they may want the Mariners to throw Haniger into the deal, similar to how the Mets wanted Diaz.
Not even a month ago, Jerry Dipoto said that three players were “off-limits” and the rest of the team were up for grabs in the offseason trade market. Those three players were Diaz, Haniger, and young starter Marco Gonzales. Unless blown away, Dipoto had no interest in shipping them away.
If a Seager-Haniger trade were to occur, Jerry Dipoto will have already traded two of those players before January for dramatically less than their values in attempts to unload veteran contracts. To be fair, I think it is safe to say that “re-imagining” is a definite sugarcoat of the situation.
Despite a decline in offensive production, Kyle Seager is a gold-glove caliber defender, which many teams may want as they look to contend in 2019. And there is always the possibility of a bounce-back season at the plate. Seager has improved his slash line dramatically year-over-year in the past, from a .266/.328/.451 slash line in 2015 to .278/.359/.499 in the 2016 campaign.
If it is possible to trade Seager on his own, I would be shocked if Dipoto and Co. did not make it happen. But if the Mariners trade Seager, Haniger cannot go with him. With an abundance of payroll after the departures of Robinson Cano and Jean Segura, finding a third baseman to man the hot corner would not be Seattle’s largest problem. And with Dipoto’s sights set on 2020 or 2021, the Mariners cannot afford to lose the 27-year-old Haniger, about to head into the prime years of his career.
If Seager remains a Mariner, he may find great success in a 2019 season that will more than likely bring no playoff berth to the city of Seattle. But if he is traded, prepare for a young star to be packaged with him.