Seattle Mariners Nontraditional Rebuild Should Add Young Starter

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 30: Relief pitcher Dylan Bundy #37 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at Safeco Field on June 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 30: Relief pitcher Dylan Bundy #37 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at Safeco Field on June 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners are rebuilding, no doubt about it. However, much to the confusion of most of the national media, and Dan O’Dowd apparently, it is not a traditional rebuild.

If the past 2 major Mariners moves to prove anything, it is that this rebuild will be anything but conventional. First trading Ben Gamel with 4-years of club control for Domingo Santana, who has 3 years of club control. In a traditional rebuild, club control and prospects are kings. The Mariners sacrificed a little of both in this trade.

Second, the Yusei Kikuchi signing. Spending “big money” when you are sacrificing at least 1 season is unusual. Especially when you consider the player in question is completely unproven in MLB. But the Mariners signed him to get his feet wet in the rebuild, with the idea he will be comfortable when they compete in 2020 or 2021.

Both these deals, mainly the Kikuchi one, may have actually put 2020 on the table as a competitive season. With Mitch Haniger, Marco Gonzales, Mallex Smith, Omar Narvaez, Santana, Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield, and Justin Dunn all under contract at below market value in 2020 and massive contracts like Felix Hernandez and Edwin Encarnacion coming off the books, the Mariners may be a prime candidate to spend big next off-season.s

All this is to say, the Mariners may be closer than anybody wants to admit. So as untraditional as it is, the Mariners could actually look to buy sooner than later. We already talked about this in the past and kicked around the idea of trading for Michael Fulmer of the Tigers.

Today, we continue along this thought process and look at a possible buying opportunity for Baltimore Orioles starter Dylan Bundy.

Bundy is a 26-year-old, former Top 5 pick in the draft. The RHP has had moderate success in the big leagues and he has 3-years of club control remaining and is scheduled to earn $3 million in 2019. He is coming off a 2018 season that saw him make a career-high 31 starts and 171.2 innings pitched. His 5.45 ERA was a step back after posting a 4.24 ERA in 2017.

Bundy’s underlying numbers show some potential for significant improvement, posting a 4.24 xFIP in 2018, as well as a 9.65 K/9 and 2.83 BB/9. So why would the Orioles trade Bundy? The Orioles, like the Mariners, are rebuilding. Trading away a 26-year-old starter doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface.

However, the Orioles are taking a more traditional route towards rebuilding, looking at the more traditional 5-7 year plan. There is an excellent chance the Bundy will be long gone before the Orioles are close to playoff contention.

In addition, Baltimore has had a front office regime change, so every player should be available in this rebuild. Bundy wouldn’t be cheap, but also hasn’t had the same production as James Paxton or Chris Archer, who the Orioles would likely seek a comparable package against.

In all reality, Bundy is probably worth a slightly better package than Kevin Gausman, who was traded from the Orioles to the Braves on July 31 of 2018. In that trade, the Orioles sent away Gausman and Darren O’Day for Brett Cumberland, Jean Carlos Encarnacion, Bruce Zimmermann, Evan Philips, and international slot money.

Would it make sense for the Mariners to give up a similar package when 2019 is almost certainly a lost season? If they can trade bulk instead of impact, absolutely. Bundy is a flyball pitcher (46% in 18) who also misses bats and could be a significantly better fit at T-Mobile Park than Camden Yards.

But what would such a package look like? I have no idea. But using the Gausman deal as a bit of a guide, he is our proposal:

In this proposal, the Orioles get 3 prospects who likely slide into their Top 25. Stowers has a high floor, and if he can add a bit more power, he can be a solid starting LF. Sanchez could make his MLB debut as a reliever in 2019, or as a starter in 2020. Querecuto is a toolsy 18-year-old with some upside as well.

The Mariners get a starter with 3-years of club control remaining with #3 starter upside. A move like this could accelerate their timeline, or add a useful trade piece if Bundy’s fit at T-Mobile provides better numbers for him in 2019.

While highly unorthodox and a lot of unknown to consider, a starting rotation of Kikuchi, Gonzales, Bundy, Sheffield, and Dunn in 2020 is easy to dream on. As for 2019, Bundy likely slides into the #4 spot of the rotation, behind Felix, Kikuchi, Leake (if not traded) or Gonzales.

Next. Ranking the first 7 Mariners Trades of the Off-Season. dark

There are a lot of problems with this proposal, and is as unlikely to happen as any other trades that are proposed. But the Mariners are not interested in sitting back for more than 2 years, and adding an upside play like Bundy could accelerate their timeline even more.