We continue to inch closer to the July 31st trade deadline and still, the Mariners remain relatively quiet. While it’s likely the team will push hard to trade pricey vets like Dee Gordon and Mike Leake, there may be an opportunity to do more.
You see, the Mariners can’t simply make any player “untouchable”. And while guys like J.P. Crawford, Yusei Kikuchi, and Jarred Kelenic are basically that, you still need to consider everything. The same approach should be taken when dealing with trade partners. No team should be off-limits.
And to his credit, GM Jerry Dipoto has never had issues dealing with any specific team, even those in his own division. Dipoto will make in division trades and has an opportunity to make another one and capitalize on some cheap acquisitions from the past few months.
The Oakland A’s have been red hot and appear primed for their seemingly annual second-half charge into the playoffs. They currently sit just 1.5 games behind the Indians for the second Wild Card spot and have made up some ground on the Astros, trailing in the AL West by 7.5 games.
But Oakland has some issues they need to sure up and money will, of course, be an issue. With holes in the rotation, corner outfield, and catcher, there is a strong likelihood that they’ll be on the outside looking in unless they plug some of these holes.
The Mariners happen to have several potential options at each of these spots and options that are not going to be too expensive for Oakland’s cheap owners. Omar Narvaez and Tom Murphy both represent upgrades over Josh Phegley who had an epic May but cooled off significantly since.
In the outfield, the A’s struggles are coming in right field, where they rank 25th in fWAR and in LF where they rank in the middle of the pack. Domingo Santana makes some sense for Oakland, especially since Stephen Piscotty is out for a while.
And while the Mariners don’t have a big name starting pitcher to give, arms like Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone might make some sense as well. Oakland has a deep farm system and the Mariners can help fill multiple needs for the A’s as they make their playoff push.
But what would this deal look like? There are dozens of different scenarios that could make sense, but here is our proposal:
So in this deal, the Mariners land a potential long-term replacement for Kyle Seager who is blocked in Oakland by Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. Neuse isn’t likely to be a gold glover but has a well above-average arm and a surprising amount of range. Above-average isn’t out of the question for Neuse.
His right-handed swing generates good bat speed and you can see the power it can generate. There is still some swing and miss issues but he has tightened up his approach and as a result, he has posted a 10% walk rate.
The Mariners also get James Kaprielian, a highly talented pitcher who has struggled to stay healthy since being drafted in 2015. The 25-year-old has stalled out in High-A ball after missing the entire 2017 and 2018 season but still has tremendous upside.
When he’s healthy, Kaprielian has a mid-90s fastball with 3 above-average off-speed pitches. He is a good athlete with a clean delivery who can repeat it well and throw strikes. If he can stay healthy, he does have a legitimate #2 upside, but at this stage, he is a big risk.
Both Neuse and Kaprielian probably land in the 10-13 range of most Mariners prospect ranks. Both have MLB futures but are either blocked by established young stars or battling to get healthy. A team like Oakland can’t afford to wait as Chapman, Olson, Marcus Semien, and Khris Davis are all inching closer to free agency and the A’s won’t be able to keep them.
The A’s window is closing while the Mariners are still building. Oakland has shown a willingness to trade big prospects to try and win now with deals like Addison Russell for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester.
If they want to do it again, the Mariners can help fill several of their gaps. If not, a separate trade for any of the players listed above could really make sense as well.