The debate of winners and losers in trades is easy when hindsight is 20/20. It’s one that currently commands the baseball conversation in Seattle, some 94 trades after Jerry Dipoto’s arrival.
Memories of Érik Bédard and Jesús Montero are still burned in the minds of Mariners fans, and even an entirely new regime is consistently met with the skepticism birthed from decade-long woes. For the nearly five years Dipoto has been Seattle’s general manager, he’s kept a fairly clean track record. Yet, the severe skepticism remains.
Most recently, this was put on display after Dipoto dealt Jean Segura, James Pazos, and Juan Nicasio to the Phillies for J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana. The reaction was as torches and pitchforks as you can get, as Dipoto traded away his perennial All-Star shortstop for a faltering former top prospect and an aging first baseman with a big contract and some trade value. To say the return felt light would be an understatement.
Six months later, the entire narrative of the trade has switched. Now, Pazos is with Colorado, Nicasio has posted a 5.24 ERA in 32 appearances, and Segura’s wRC+ and OBP is down to 99 and .319, respectively. Meanwhile, Santana turned into Edwin Encarnación and the 76th pick in this year’s draft, which in turn developed into two top-20 prospects for the Mariners in Isaiah Campbell and Juan Then, and Crawford (1.4) has nearly matched Segura’s fWAR total (1.9) this season in 41 less games.
What once looked like a vintage mistake by the Mariners has quickly turned into one of Dipoto’s greatest feats in the Emerald City. But for how quickly that narrative switched, a similar debate is brewing about a deal initially regarded as Dipoto’s magnum opus. With Segura’s abrupt departure, Mitch Haniger‘s subtle regression, and the rise of Ketel Marte this season, suddenly Dipoto’s infamous Thanksgiving Eve deal with Arizona is under some scrutiny.
It shouldn’t be. What fans lose in the winners-losers debate is that both teams can come out of a deal happy. That’s how trades should work, in theory. And that’s how most of Dipoto’s deals have ended up going.
Some players like Mike Montgomery, Paul Blackburn, and Boog Powell have busted out for a short period time after being dealt by Dipoto, but have ultimately fizzled out. There have only been a few occurrences in Dipoto’s time in Seattle in which he’s actually flat-out lost a trade.
So we’re going to look at those today, starting with…