The Seattle Mariners are playing some really good baseball but that won’t prevent GM Jerry Dipoto from continuing his quest to “re-imagine” his roster. Today, we look at sending an outfielder to The Windy City.
One of the hottest players in all of baseball right now is Mariners OF Domingo Santana. In 79 games this season, Santana is slashing .283/.350/.505 (entering Wednesday), with 17 home runs and 60 RBI.
The numbers get even better when you look at his June. Santana entered Wednesday’s game slashing .315/.390/.587 with 7 home runs and 18 RBI. Santana’s defense has also improved slightly since being moved to right field.
Unlike Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion, Santana is cheap and controllable, not entering free agency until after 2021. He is also just 26-years-old and could be on the upswing of his career. The Mariners don’t have to do anything with Santana, which also makes him one of the more valuable trade chips in the organization.
But Santana is sure to have a list of serious suitors and Seattle should have no issue recouping the cost it took to acquire Domingo just 6 months ago. One of the teams that could use a corner outfielder is the Chicago Cubs.
Entering today, the Cubs sit in first place in the NL Central but currently rank 23rd in offense created by their corner OF’ers. Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward have been fine, but are posting just a 104 wRC+. So, there is room for improvement.
Now, finding the right package is a bit difficult. The Cubs will have to bring it to convince Dipoto to move a potential cornerstone bat in the Mariners lineup. But with Santana’s timeline being on the fringe portion of the team’s competitive window means it’s possible.
The Cubs don’t have a great farm system, but they do have some quality options to consider, including some options with MLB experience. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at our proposal:
Ian Happ is the big name here and an interesting one to boot. Happ actually has about 1.5 years of big league experience and has produced some decent numbers along the way. His profile sounds eerily similar to one Shed Long, swapping some hit tool for power.
Both players are good athletes without a solidified defensive home. Happ has some serious swing-and-miss problems, posting a 33.8% K rate. However, Happ does take his walks, posting a career 12.5% BB rate.
Happ has 20-25 home run power and can steal a handful of bags while taking his fair share of walks. The strikeouts will prevent him from hitting for much average, but a .240/.340/.500 slash isn’t out of the question.
Unfortunately, Happ is stuck in AAA and his numbers have been less than encouraging. Combining that with a lack of a defensive home, Happ could very well be available for any team this summer. He turns 25 in August and is club controlled through 2023, making him a better fit for the Mariners current timeline.
Now perhaps you were a bit surprised to see Roenis Elias in this deal and you may be asking, “why trade both in the same deal”? The answer is to get more from the Cubs. The inclusion of Elias helps the Cubs part ways with Brailyn Marquez, a 20-year-old LHP.
Marquez doesn’t have great numbers in A-Ball but has a tantalizing toolbelt to dream on. The lefty has a riding fastball that sits in the mid-’90s and has touched 99 at times. He backs up the heater with an above-average power curveball. The changeup is coming along nicely as well.
The command is below-average and the control is iffy, but he is a good athlete, which should help him refine his mechanics and make his delivery more repeatable. He is a project, but one with #2 upside.
Finally, the Mariners add another back-of-the-rotation arm in Thomas Hatch. While he may ultimately be a middle-reliever, Hatch does have two, above-average offerings in his fastball and slider. The heater sits 91-93 and the slider has some potential. The changeup is fringe-average as well.
Command has been Hatch’s biggest flaw, but he does have 73 strikeouts in 74 innings as a starter in AA. Seattle has found a way to help Connor Sadzeck and Austin Adams throw strikes and Hatch could be another reclamation project.
So in this proposal, the Mariners give up 2 of their best trade chips but add a high upside utility bat, a potential #2 starter, and a middle of the road pitching prospect. They would also add 16 years of club control while losing just 5 years between Santana and Elias.
There are a number of teams that could use Santana. If the Mariners want to cash in now, they should get a fairly significant return for one of the better bats in the game.