The Seattle Mariners have already been busy on the trade market and will undoubtedly continue to do the same. But while this time of year is filled with rumor and speculation, don’t fall for a common trap.
This trap that Mariners fans, and fans in general, is to become consumed with who won a trade. We see it everywhere. “Dipoto lost this trade because he gave up so much money to move Bruce”. Or, “the Mariners gave up Encarnacion for a player they used to have. They’re losing that trade”.
You have undoubtedly heard the conversation on social media as to whether or not the Mariners actually won the Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger for Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker trade. They did, but this really ignores a simple question: why does it matter?
Does it really matter if a GM wins all of his trades? No. I mean, we know that every team will make bad trades, so nobody wins them all. But we tend to think of losing trades as being bad at your job. Jack Zduriencik lost a lot of trades as Seattle’s GM. Is that why he was fired? No.
Zduriencik’s failures as GM had much more to do with bad drafts, player development, and free agent signings than trades. And Dipoto makes so many trades, people want to focus on the home runs and strikeouts, but ignore the bulk of his deals made. Why? Because we have a need to grade a trade.
And while these topics are fun to discuss, they are ultimately, irrelevant. One trade under fire recently is the decision to move Paxton to the Yankees for a package headlined by Justus Sheffield. In just 3 months, Sheffield went from most people’s #1 prospect to some acting as if he was junk and declaring the Mariners as massive losers of that deal.
Obviously, this is balderdash. Could the Mariners lose that trade? Yes. Could it ultimately mean very little if they do? Also yes. Grading trades the moment they happen is fun for us, but there has never been a more useless exercise.
Players change so much, it is impossible to know who won or lost any deal and so many trades are inter-connected that it is hard to keep track of how one trade effects the other. For Encarnacion, the Mariners got Juan Then, a 19-year-old pitcher who could be a #4 starter or a middle reliever.
Not an exciting return for most. Many were quick to call it a loss. Why? Because Encarnacion is a recognizable name and Then isn’t a big name prospect. So how do we avoid these traps this trade season? Here are some helpful hints:
- Grade a Trade is fun, but not the gospel. Things change quickly and what looks bad now can be a slam dunk down the road
- The goal of a GM is not to win trades. The goal is to win a world series. The Cubs gave up Gleyber Torres for 3 months of Aroldis Chapman. They lost that trade. Period. How much do you think Cubs fan care?
- Start all inquiry with a simple premise: my GM isn’t an idiot. That’s not to say Dipoto won’t make a bad trade but remember he does have a solid track record and isn’t a drooling, incompetent buffoon.
- Remember the big picture. 2019-2020 losses could equal 2021-2024 gains.
I hope these tips are helpful. Mariners fans would do well to remember these ideas for the entire season. Dipoto isn’t going anywhere and his aggressive style isn’t either. Remember, winning trades isn’t as important as most want you to believe. Take a breath, a step back, and remember what the ultimate goals of any GM are.