It’s the middle of January and Mitch Haniger is still the face of the Seattle Mariners. But with the OF market starting to take shape, could some teams reconsider Haniger?
For most of this off-season, we have been operating under the assumption that the Mariners would trade Haniger. However, the team has repeatedly stated that they would ” need to be blown away” to trade Haniger.
Thus far, no team has been willing to come close to the Mariners asking price. We don’t know exactly what teams have offered Dipoto, but thanks to various reports, we can piece together their asking price.
According to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Dipoto is apparently looking for 2, top-level prospects to headline the package. They would like one of those of prospects to be a pitcher. Jason Churchill of Hero Sports and Prospect Insider reported that the Dipoto is looking for “probability on the upside”. In other words, players who are close to MLB ready with a relatively high floor. Players like Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield, as opposed to players like Jared Kelenic.
Thus far, per Dipoto, no team has “come close” to match their asking price, which means teams are offering prospects 3 or more years away, as opposed to players who could help the Mariners in 2019 or 2020.
The asking price on Haniger is not ridiculous. It is, in fact, right in line with a recent trade, which we wrote about when looking for a trade comp. There are just a handful of teams who might actually be able to match the offer Seattle wants. One such team is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers, who recently made a huge trade to clear cap space and their OF to pursue Bryce Harper, haven’t been linked to Harper all off-season. Assuming they miss-out on Harper, the Dodgers are still in decent shape in the OF but have come up short in the World Series 2 years in a role.
Adding a player like Haniger for the next 4 seasons could be an interesting option. But do they have the type of prospects that the Mariners have been asking for? Yes. Here is the proposal:
The “headliner” of this deal for Seattle is OF Alex Verdugo. Verdugo definitely fits the need of being “MLB ready” as he already has some major league seasoning and is slated to be the Dodgers starting RF in 2019.
Verdugo has a high-floor, but his ceiling may be capped. He has hit everywhere along the line, including a .329/.391/.474 slash line in AAA last season. Verdugo fits the “control the zone” type of hitter Dipoto loves. The question for Verdugo is the power, where he has shown growth but is still a fringe-average tool for a corner OF.
While the power is still a question, Verdugo is a solid defender in RF and has one of the stronger arms in the minors.
Next, to satisfy the Mariners desire to add a young pitcher, Dustin May. A 6’6″ 21-year-old RHP, May has rocketed up prospect ranks and finished the 2019 season in AA. With a plus fastball/curveball combo, an above-average cutter, and a changeup that is a solid 4th offering, May has the opportunity to be a good #3 type of starter.
He has above-average command and uses his hard two-seam fastball to generate an enormous amount of groundball outs. Like Verdugo, May has a high-floor, but not an elite ceiling. But the combination of these two players fulfills the Mariners demand for the top of the package.
As for the tertiary pieces, there are several interesting options. Dennis Santana, Jeter Downs, Michael Grove, and Mitchell White all make sense. Ultimately, we landed on Tony Gonsolin, a 24-year-old RHP who split time between Advanced-A and AA ball, thanks to his accelerated timeline and his ability to contribute as soon as 2019.
Gonsolin has a high-floor of a setup man and could reach his ceiling of a #3 starter. Gonsolin posted an impressive 155 strikeouts in 128 innings. Gonsolin still needs to refine his command but has a mid-90’s fastball and above-average splitter give him a good chance to stick in a rotation.
It is entirely possible the Dodgers balk at that price, but it is the package the Mariners have been telling teams it would take. If the Mariners can’t get this type of package, they have no reason to trade Haniger. He still fits in their timeline and should retain value if Dipoto wants to try again in July or next off-season.
It now seems more likely than not that Haniger will start the year in Seattle, but this is the type of package that could test Dipoto’s resolve.