The Seattle Mariners are starting to find out who they should build around and who may be dealt for long-term assets. And if GM Jerry Dipoto really wants to compete in 2021, he will need outside help for his rotation.
While yes, the Mariners appear to have several spots more or less locked in, including Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, and quite possibly Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn in 2020, there is still a need for an impact arm in case things don’t go as planned.
There are a number of arms available this year, including Matt Boyd, Chris Archer, and Marcus Stroman. However, one under the radar arms who might be available this summer is Colorado Rockies right-handed hurler Jon Gray.
Gray, a 27-year-old starter, has been primed for a breakout season for 3 years and from an outside perspective, he may have already broken out. But Gray is still seen as a bit of a disappointment in Colorado.
In 2018, he posted a 5.12 ERA, but also put up a 9.65 K/9 while walking just 2.72 hitters per 9 innings. He also posted a 47.5% groundball rate, which added up to a solid 3.65 xFIP. Gray has had better luck in the ERA department, but the rest of his numbers are on pace with his 2018 production with the exception of a sharp spike in his BB/9.
The question remains whether or not the Rockies will consider moving Gray this summer. The Rockies find themselves 11 games back of the Dodgers, but do hold one of the two Wild Card spots. With a tough schedule coming in July, the Rockies could be buyers now and sellers in 3 weeks.
So if they do decide to trade Gray, it likely won’t be until close to July 31st. Of course, it is possible that Seattle could actually buy Gray by giving the Rockies helpful big league pieces now. It is unusual for a contender to trade a big league piece to fill their need, but it could make sense and the Mariners and Rockies do lineup nicely in a few spots.
For example, the Rockies outfield could use another quality bat and their catching situation ranks 20th in fWAR. So could the Rockies have interest in Domingo Santana, Mitch Haniger, or Omar Narvaez? Possibly.
A Rockies trade for Mitch Haniger with Jon Gray as the centerpiece would be interesting. Would you be upset with a Haniger for Jon Gray, Ramiel Tapia, and Ryan Vilade? Of course not. Is it likely? Well, look at the last answer. But man, is it fun to think about.
But for now, let’s assume the Rockies fade in July and Jon Gray gets shopped. Here is our proposal:
So yeah, we are going to include a Major League player. Domingo Santana and Jon Gray have the same amount of club control and adding Domingo Santana give the Rockies a starting outfield of Charlie Blackmon in left, David Dahl in center, and Santana in RF. It also doesn’t close the door on them making a late-season charge for a playoff spot.
In addition, the Mariners send the Rockies some bullpen help in the way of Roenis Elias. In return, the Rockies send an older minor league outfielder with solid production and questions about his hit tool (sound familiar?), Yohnathan Daza.
Daza is currently tearing it up in AAA Colorado Springs, slashing .286/.430/.596. There is no indication the power will translate to the big leagues, but his speed, defense, and arm are all plus, making him a solid fourth outfielder.
To wrap up the deal, the Mariners ship Juan Querecuto a toolsy 18-year-old infielder to sweeten the deal. Querecuto has all the skills to stick at shortstop. The bat remains the question, but he does have a good work ethic and solid swing in which to build around.
This deal is creative and definitely outside the box. One thing you sometimes learn while writing these articles is where certain players fit. The Colorado Rockies are actually a great fit for Mitch Haniger, so be on the lookout for that article in the future.
But in this deal, Seattle gets a #3 starter with ace potential and get him for 2.5 years. With the outfield depth where it is, the Mariners can afford to move a young player like Domingo Santana in a deal to get back a young, talented starter.
They also land a high-floor outfielder who has a chance to be an everyday player for the cost of a short-term reliever and an infielder 4-5 years away from the big leagues. This deal is similar to the Tyler O’Neill for Marco Gonzales trade a few years back but with a twist.
Jon Gray is the type of player who can become a home run addition for a team like Seattle and getting Gray out of Colorado could be what is best for his career.