As the hours continue to tick down towards the trade deadline, Mariners fans are becoming more and more anxious about when the next shoe will drop. While GM Jerry Dipoto works the phone, we will continue to work our imagination.
Over the past week, we have begun to look at a highly unlikely trade candidate for the Mariners, Marco Gonzales. The 27-year-old lefty is unlikely to be dealt as he has 4 more years of club control after this season and has been held up as an example for future Mariners on how to handle their business.
In addition to this, Gonzales is a rock-solid, middle-of-the-rotation arm who won’t even begin to make serious money until after 2021. He’s a young, cheap, and controllable asset with a high floor and a 4 win ceiling. Of course, he makes sense as a guy to keep around. But it is these qualities that could also make him attractive on the trade market.
While Gonzales doesn’t have the ace or even #2 type of upside, he would net a decent return of assets. With the Mariners continually growing impressive cache of arms in the minor leagues, it may make sense to at least shop him around.
And if they do, one of the teams that makes some sense is the division rival Anaheim Angels. The Angels find themselves on the fringe side of contention this season and as such, have been scouring the market for “controllable assets”.
One of the biggest needs of the Angels is in their rotation. It was already a pretty big need before the tragic loss of Tyler Skaggs. The Angels figure to be in the market this winter for a big-time starter, perhaps Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, both with Southern California roots.
But even adding one of those guys still leaves a bit of a hole in the middle of that rotation, and a young, cheap, reliable starter makes sense via trade.
Now, the Angels farm system isn’t great, but there is enough to work with to get something done. Here is our proposal:
So a pretty straight forward deal: the Angels get Marco Gonzales, the Mariners get Matt Thaiss and Jeremiah Jackson. Thaiss may sound familiar to Mariners fans and that is because he has already begun his MLB career. He is just 27 PAs into his career and things haven’t gone well.
But Thaiss has shown an ability to hit up and down the minor leagues and is a perfect example of what “controlling the zone” looks like. The power is starting to show and he is a solid-average defender at first base. In AAA this year, Thaiss had nearly as many walks as strikeouts and continues to make solid contact.
In addition to Thaiss, the Mariners also get a young middle-infield prospect Jeremiah Jackson, a 2018 second-round pick. There were some rumblings that Dipoto liked Jackson during the draft process and it’s easy to see why.
He is a good athlete who should be able to handle shortstop and/or second base. The hit tool is the carrying tool and has a chance to be plus. The bat speed is plus and at 6’0″, 160 lbs. he has the room to add more strength. In his first crack at pro ball, Jackson has already posted 11 home runs. Jackson needs to make more contact to reach his potential as strikeouts are a concern.
This deal is similar to the Mike Montgomery for Daniel Vogelbach trade. A young, controllable pitcher for a young, controllable bat. But since Marco has a long track record, the price is a bit different.
It may seem like the Mariners have enough first baseman with Daniel Vogelbach and Evan White in the future, but Vogelbach is a DH and White, while still promising, is far from a sure thing. Even if White does live up to his potential, Thaiss or Vogelbach should have some good trade value. And even then, White is probably a year away and has the athleticism to handle the outfield as well.
Overall, this deal is about as likely as all other trade ideas; not likely. But no trade is ever likely. Trades are hard to make and most conversations had between front offices lead nowhere. But sometimes, a conversation had today leads to something 5 months down the line, so all discussions are worth having.