It’s Sunday, I’m bored, the Phillies need pitching, and we need a Trade-a-Day article for today. Let’s get wild.
The Mariners don’t have a ton to give at this year’s deadline. But for what they do have, they should expect to exit the month of July with a significant haul to set themselves up nicely for the offseason.
In doing so, they’ll have to be creative. Luckily enough, they have the most creative and active general manager in all of baseball. Jerry Dipoto has never been scared to think outside of the box and that’s not going to stop anytime soon. And it surely helps that he’s heading into trade season on a bit of a hot streak.
For this mock trade, we’ll be taking two rumors from two separate teams, roll them into one, and get the Mariners involved. Those rumors, in particular, being the Cincinnati Reds’ search for a Major League hitter and the Philadelphia Phillies’ desperate need to acquire pitching and take full advantage of their window.
We’ve played around with both rumors multiple times across the first month of this series’ lifespan. Now, all that comes to a head with a bit of a twist to it. Here’s what we came up with.
This is a big one, so we have a lot to cover. Before we go into why the Mariners would do this and what exactly they’re getting in return, let’s look at this deal from the perspective of both Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Tanner Roark isn’t exactly the big-name rotation piece Phillies fans are holding out hope for this month, but he’s a significant upgrade to one of the worst and most banged-up rotations in baseball. Acquiring Roark also won’t be crippling to Philadelphia’s farm system, or at least won’t cost as much as a potential deal for a fellow rental like Madison Bumgarner.
Philadelphia could still choose to target Bumgarner as well after this deal, or view Roark as a fallback if other teams such as the Yankees were to raise the asking price out of their comfort zone.
But while the Phillies are the clear buyers in this scenario, the Reds come away with the best big leaguer of the whole shebang in Domingo Santana. This isn’t the massive Mitch Haniger-centered deal we’ve toyed around with in the past, but Santana certainly fits the description of what the Reds are looking for to complete an outfield devoid of a tertiary member to pair with Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel.
Keep in mind that, while the Reds are sitting in last place of the NL Central right now, they’re only 4.5 games out of the top spot. Santana keeps them competitive this year, while also solidifying their outfield for at least two more years to come.
Along with Santana, I also have the Mariners sending Roenis Elías to Philadelphia in the deal, who joins Cincinnati’s Jared Hughes to help solve the Phillies’ season-long bullpen woes. That’s two of Seattle’s biggest MLB-ready trade chips gone in one swing, but at a good price.
In total, the Mariners get four players—two from Philadelphia and two from Cincinnati. While Philly is footing the bill for most of Seattle’s return, the Reds are giving up the best prospect in catcher Tyler Stephenson. A former top-15 pick just four years ago, Stephenson is an advanced defender who’s roughly a year or less away from the MLB. The bat has become more consistent in its production, with Stephenson slashing a solid line of .263/.342/.379 with four home runs and 29 RBIs at Double-A this year.
To make up for the loss of Stephenson, the Reds get a pair of pitchers from the Phillies in Ranger Suárez and Colton Eastman. Across Triple-A and the MLB, Suárez has struggled a bit over the last year and change, and has been exclusively used out of the bullpen by Gabe Kapler this season. But he’s only 23 and could thrive with an opportunity to start at the back of Cincinnati’s rotation this year, once again giving them potential impact for 2019 and beyond.
The Mariners are also getting a bit of MLB-ready help in this deal as well with the additions of righties Nick Pivetta and Lucas Sims. Despite massive struggles at the MLB level this year, there’s still a lot of reason to be high on Pivetta moving forward.
It’s tough to be a Phillies pitcher this year, amongst a critical fanbase in a season filled with World Series aspirations. In the time Pivetta was removed from that situation in Triple-A, he seemed to be able to figure a few things out and have some success. In those six starts, Pivetta posted a 3.41 ERA with a 12.16 K/9.
When he returned, however, things went right back down the drain. Everything but his slider and changeup have been absolutely destroyed by Major League hitting this year, including his fastball which has allowed an enormous .748 slugging percentage in 505 offerings. The control and stuff itself has been fine, really, so there’s no cause for concern in terms of an injury. There’s just a clear need for a change of scenery.
As for Sims, whom the Reds acquired in last year’s Adam Duvall deal, Jerry Dipoto once again takes a chance on a former first-rounder who’s struggled in very limited amounts of exposure to the MLB. Ironically, the Mariners already have one of the trio of players who headed from Atlanta to Cincinnati in that Duvall deal in Matt Wisler, so why not add another?
With only 80.2 MLB innings under his belt over the last three seasons, all Sims really needs is an opportunity at this point. He hasn’t been stellar in Triple-A this year, sporting a 4.10 FIP in 15 starts, but he’s racking up big strikeout numbers (11.80) and generally has nothing left to prove at the level.
It’s possible that dealing Roark would then open up an opportunity for Sims to start in Cincinnati’s rotation, but will that opportunity last for more than a couple weeks, especially with Suárez in the fold? Probably not. The Mariners have the roster space and time to give Sims more than a fair shot at developing into a solid back-end rotation piece.
To cap off the deal, Seattle also gets left-handed pitching prospect Jakob Hernandez. A 21st round pick by the Phillies in the 2017 draft, Hernandez has already worked his way up to Double-A in dominating fashion. He’s a reliever through and through, but puts up a ton of strikeouts and could be up as soon as Opening Day next year.