The Mariners rebuild is off to a great start, even if the Major League Product has been lackluster. GM Jerry Dipoto has created a plethora of depth at nearly every position on the field. JP Crawford, Evan White, Cal Raleigh, and Shed Long all seem poised to make up the infield of the future.
While any combination of Jared Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Kyle Lewis, Jake Fraley, and Dom Thompson-Williams appear to be set to man the outfield during the Mariners’ next bid for contention. Still, there is one spot that doesn’t offer much depth in the Minor Leagues.
Even with his rebound year in 2019, Kyle Seager isn’t going to be here forever. Third Base is a pretty light position in the Mariners system, where only Joe Rizzo and Austin Shenton stand to take the reins.
Last week, I wrote up an article talking about trading for Yankees youngster Miguel Andujar. However, a cheaper option may lie within the crowded ranks of the San Diego Padres organization and his name is Ty France.
France seems like the odd man out in San Diego. Primarily a third baseman, France has been blocked by the franchise record deal that Manny Machado signed last offseason. France can play first base, but the Padres signed Eric Hosmer for such a role a few years back.
In fact, France has even been asked to play second base while Ian Kinsler underperformed. Unfortunately for France, the former top prospect Luis Urias should be locked in to see most of those reps from here on out. So where does that leave France?
Certainly, France could play the utility role for the Padres but his production at AAA El Paso warrants more than that. France hit .399/.477/.770 with 27 home runs in just 348 at-bats. He struck out only 51 times with 30 walks.
Those numbers insane to say the least. His time in the big leagues hasn’t gone as well. In 201 at-bats, France hit .234/.294/.402 with 7 homers, albeit a small sample size. France is just 25 years old and is controlled through 2025.
Defensively, France isn’t going to kill you, as he had only 2 errors over 259 innings while playing 3B, 2B, 1B and even pitching a little bit. So with a skill set like that, why would the Padres want to trade France? Well, maybe they don’t. But, the Padres are itching for a postseason appearance. In fact, Padres chairman Ron Fowler told The San Diego Union-Tribune that “Heads will roll, beginning with mine” should the team not make a significant improvement in 2020.
The Padres own a 13-year playoff drought (which doesn’t seem so bad when you’re a Mariners fan) so dangling Ty France as trade bait isn’t the worst idea.
What the Padres desperately need is pitching. Their starting rotation is currently made up of Chris Paddack, Joey Lucchesi, Nick Margevicius, Garrett Richards, etc. They do have a few young prospects that could be called upon, such as Cal Quantrill, but if the Padres want to contend as early as next year, they need someone that has big-league experience already. They could use some consistency and the Mariners have a player who could provide exactly that.
I offered the same player to the Yankees for Miguel Andujar. It’s not that I don’t like Marco Gonzales, it’s just that he seems to be a player that fits on so many teams as well as being expendable by the M’s.
The Mariners’ front office seems to love Marco, however, due to his consistency and his willingness to do what they ask of him. For a player like France, I’m not sure how the Mariners could say no.
In fact, I think they could get more than just France for Gonzales. Since France is unproven, it would seem plausible that the Mariners could ask for another lower-level prospect in return with France as the prize.
The Mariners could survive trading Marco Gonzales. With Justus Sheffield, Yusei Kikuchi and possibly even Justin Dunn in line to grab rotation spots next season, as well as Logan Gilbert on his way, Gonzales becomes expendable. His rotation spot could easily be filled via free agency by the likes of Rick Porcello or Gio Gonzalez for relatively cheap.
France would give the Mariners a legitimate bat. France is 6 feet tall, 205 pounds with a strong lower half. He makes loud contact and has the power to hit the ball out to all parts of the field.
The Mariners could use France at first base for now, until Evan White is ready or until Kyle Seager comes off the books. Adding an impact, major league ready bat such as his could certainly help the Mariners achieve their goal of contending by 2021-2022.
Jerry Dipoto claimed that it was going to be a quieter offseason than in years past (which isn’t that hard when you consider the number of trades that Dipoto has been apart of) but that doesn’t mean that the Mariners aren’t going to trade for talent if the opportunity presents itself.
France is one of my favorite trade opportunities for the M’s and while they may not want to trade Gonzales, something like this may be too hard to pass up and the Padres just may be willing to make it happen.