As the offseason approaches, it’s finally time to shift our focus onto restructuring the Mariners once again. With the likes of Kyle Lewis, Justin Dunn, Donnie Walton, and Art Warren all making their debuts at the end of the season, the future of the Mariners franchise is starting to come into focus and the 2019-2020 offseason will play a big part in building a contender.
One of the Mariners glaring holes down on the farm is clearly 3B. So to fill that hole, we are traveling to the Bronx. Kyle Seager has experienced a rebirth at the plate in the second half of the season but he is on the wrong side of 30. He has certainly rebuilt his own trade value however with the poison pill clause in his contract, its likely that Seager will be with the M’s until the end of the 2022 season when his current contract expires.
After Seager, however, there isn’t much in the way of reinforcements. Shed Long can handle it but figures to see plenty of time at second base after the departure of Dee Gordon. Joe Rizzo, ranked the 25th best prospect in the system by Baseball America, has seen a huge improvement at the plate, hitting .295/.354/.423 with 10 home runs in 570 plate appearances in High-A Modesto.
He is still a few years away even if he can keep up that kind of stat line at the plate. At just 21 years old, Rizzo will be given plenty of time to develop into the player that the Mariners wish he could be. So, the Mariners could use a player that is young and still has some time in the Major Leagues.
Miguel Andujar burst onto the scene in 2018 at just 23 years old and finished second in the Rookie of the Year Voting. He hit .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs and 92 RBI in 606 plate appearances with the Yankees. He was off to a rough start in 2019 when his season ended abruptly due to a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder.
The injury forced the Yankees to turn to 27-year-old Gio Urshela, who has set the world on fire by hitting .315/.356/.532 with a career-high 20 home runs in just 466 plate appearances. Both Andujar and Urshela are controlled through the 2024 season and it will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle the situation this offseason.
Andujar’s trade value certainly hit after the injury. A shoulder injury is nothing to mess with at third base when you’re making the longest throw across the diamond. In fact, Andujar has never had a stellar defense as he had a -2.2 dWAR in 2018, offsetting his 4.6 oWAR.
He owned a .948 fielding percentage in 2018 and an even worse .700 in 2019 with three errors in 33 innings at the hot corner. If the Yankees do decide to sell low on Andujar, hopefully, the Mariners take advantage of the situation and give Andujar a shot in Seattle.
It was reported at the trade deadline this year, albeit by everybody’s favorite moron, Jon Heyman, that the Yankees are willing to trade Andujar for a starting pitcher. In fact, the Blue Jays reportedly turned down an offer for Marcus Stroman that included Andujar. Whether the Yankees are still willing to make such a trade, well, we will have to just wait and see.
So what does that mean for the Seattle Mariners? As the young arms in the Mariners system make their way towards the big leagues, it’s fair to wonder how Marco Gonzales fits into their long term plans. Gonzales has been better than the numbers show. He owns a 4.09 ERA with 196 Innings pitched, good for a 3.2 bWAR.
The ERA might not be sparkling but his second half has shown that Marco has become a reliable innings eater. He has a 3.87 ERA in the second half including a 2.73 ERA in the month of September. He has a 2.43 BB/9 in 2019 and just like Andujar, he is controlled through the 2024 season. It’s never a bad sign when a pitcher gets better later in the season. Marco would slot in nicely in the 4 spots in the rotation for the Yankees.
Now, I don’t think that the Mariners could trade Gonzales for Andujar straight up. But with the diminishing value of the Yankee’s third baseman, now is the time to strike a deal. The Mariners could include another young arm, such as RHP Wyatt Mills or RHP Joey Gerber. Both rank within the top 30 prospects in the Mariners system and could slot into the Yankees bullpen as early as next year.
Should this trade come to fruition, the Mariners could slot Andujar at third base as well as DH depending on the situation each day. He may even need some time to rehab in AAA Tacoma and could see the time there until one of Kyle Seager, Daniel Vogelbach or Domingo Santana is traded, leaving him an open spot to claim.
Andujar is more than capable to handle the day by day of a major league season so long as he is healthy. He would be with the Mariners through his 29 seasons and based on his offensive profile, he could become a staple in the Mariners lineup right into their window of contention.
As for Yankees, Gonzales would provide a stabilizing force to a rotation that is losing CC Sabathia. Luis Severino‘s health has been a question due to inflammation in his rotator cuff as well as a strained lat muscle and Domingo German‘s future in a mystery after his season was cut short due to domestic violence allegations. Marco would be with the Yankees through his age 32 seasons, so they would employ him through his “Prime” years.
The deal would benefit both teams, although GM Jerry Dipoto has deemed Marco as a building block for the rebuild due to his leadership and his fondness of the team. The Yankees may not be willing to trade a player that swatted 27 home runs a year ago and is still just 24 years old for a number 4 starting pitcher.
As the Mariners continue to add young players to their talented crop, the time is fast approaching for them to begin buying Major League ready talent. 2021 is now just a year away and if everything is going according to plan, this offseason could be the prime year to acquire young, controllable and experienced players to prepare for the influx of rookies coming in the next few years.