Only nine days remain before the MLB trading deadline.
While Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is expected to be one of the league’s most active sellers over the next week and change, it should not surprise anyone if he goes out and actually buys a Major Leaguer or two. These Major Leaguers don’t necessarily have to be what Tommy Pham was to the Rays last year, and they may be as little as an acquisition of a middling reliever with three or more years of club control.
Yesterday, Dipoto landed one of these exact deals in making Matt Magill the newest member of the league’s worst bullpen. As injuries have struck three of the Mariners’ most talented relievers, what once was a middle-of-the-pack bullpen is now dead last in fWAR. But for as much as some fans of the team may want them to intentionally suck, that’s not what they’re trying to do and never will.
At the very least, the final two months of an otherwise atrocious season is about finishing with some remaining dignity and a few positives. The goal from here on out, as this team shifts towards the future, should be to perform respectably and competitively, even if it doesn’t wield positive results in the win-loss column. Therefore, the bullpen needs more work done past the acquisition of Magill.
Adding significant talent to a bullpen doesn’t become important until a team is absolutely, 100% ready to compete for the postseason and beyond. But it’s also never a bad time to take a chance on talent. Would it be stupid for the Mariners to trade a top prospect for a reliever right now? Absolutely, and it doesn’t matter which reliever it is. But is it stupid for them to identify intriguing and—more importantly—affordable pieces for their bullpen? Nope.
That’s why the Magill deal makes sense. He’s a 29-year-old with a high strikeout rate and poor command. Most notably, he’s club-controlled through the 2023 season. Perhaps Magill doesn’t even make it past August, who knows? But all it cost them is cash, and if Magill actually turns into something, they have him for years on the cheap, which is not only valuable to them, but to any and every team looking for bullpen help in the near future.
So that’s what we’re going to look at today, by identifying and constructing deals around five controllable relievers who may pique Seattle’s interest.