Seattle Mariners could flip Haniger to this NL East Contender

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Mariners smiles during batting at Yankee Stadium on May 06, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Mariners smiles during batting at Yankee Stadium on May 06, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Half of the world series matchup is already set. The Washington Nationals are playing in their first-ever world series. Proximity to success can make teams do stupid things and just maybe, the Mariners can take advantage.

Of course, the Mariners are quite used to seeing success in their own division from a distance, but perhaps no team is saltier at a division opponent’s success than the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies entered the 2019 season as dark horse World Series contenders, acquiring Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Jean Segura in the winter, while the Nationals, at least in theory, got worse.

But instead, it was the Nationals, and not the Phillies, who got to the of the race and Philadelphia wasn’t happy about it. Despite the teams promising roster, the Phillies were barely relevant, finishing the season at 81-81, the definition of mediocre.

The finish was so bad that the team parted ways with Gabe Kapler as manager but are still heavily invested in a window they believe is still open. The Phillies have some money issues to deal with, but the biggest hole in the lineup is in the outfield. Now, who do we know that has a host of outfielders they could trade? The Seattle Mariners.

Of course, there are a few names that make sense in Philly, but perhaps none more so than Mitch Haniger. By acquiring Haniger, the Phillies add a potential 4-6 WAR player in the prime of his career without adding significant payroll to do it.

Of course, these types of players don’t come cheap and GM Jerry Dipoto isn’t going to let Haniger walk for less than full value. Based on every report we can gather and whispers from around the game, Dipoto is seeking an MLB ready or established big leaguer in return for Haniger, as well as some prospect depth.

That is a price the Phillies can afford. But what would that deal look like? Here is our proposal:

In our proposal, the Mariners walk away with Phillies RHP Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and 19-year-old prospect Dominic Pipkin for their former cornerstone player. Eflin, like Haniger, is controlled through the 2022 season, giving him 3-years of club control remaining.

Eflin is coming off a solidly unspectacular year in 2019, which saw him make 28 starts, throwing 163.1 innings of 4.13 ERA ball. His numbers aren’t going to jump off the page, especially in 2019. His 4.85 FIP isn’t exactly exciting, nor is his drop from 8.65 K/9 in 2018 to 7.11 K/9 in 2019.

But in the 2018 season, he posted a 2.2 fWAR in just 128 innings, so this is a little bit of a bounceback opportunity for Eflin. A 5-pitch righty, Eflin relies heavily on his fastball, slider, and sinker. He throws reasonably hard, averaging about 93 mph.

The slider was his best offering in 2019, as opponents hit just .257 with a .390 slugging percentage against it. Eflin’s changeup and curveball were hammered in 2019, which is part of the reason he rarely threw either pitch.

Interestingly enough, the curveball was Eflin’s best offering in 2018, but the slider is the go-to pitch for the 25-year-old starter.

In addition to Eflin, the Mariners also snag Nick Pivetta, a right-handed pitcher who turns 27-years-old in February who was dumped out of the rotation in 2019. Like Eflin, Pivetta is more of a bounceback candidate for Seattle. Unlike, Eflin, Pivetta has a legitimate number 2 upside.

In 2018, Pivetta flashed big-time stuff in 164 innings, posting a 10.32 K/9, a 2.80 K/9, a 46.7 GB%, and a 3.42 xFIP, which was all good for a solid 2.8 fWAR. Pivetta actually has 4-years of club control remaining, so that is a major factor.

Finally rounding out the deal is Pipkin, a classic teenage lottery ticket with a good fastball and not much else to go with it at this time. If everything goes right, he will have a mid-90s fastball with an above-average slider, fringey curveball and changeups, and average command, giving him #4 upside.

There is some projection in the frame, as scouts believe once he adds strength to his 6’4″, 160 lbs frame, the fastball velocity will stabilize. He is at least 3-years away and is really just a chance you take to see what your player development staff can figure out.

This isn’t exactly the dream package for Haniger most Mariners fans are hoping for. But in this deal, they get two major leaguers who, as recently as 2018, were a #4 starter in Eflin and a strong #3 or better in Pivetta. Plus, the young arm in Pipkin as well.

The Phillies land their other corner bat without having to deal with Alex Bohm and Spencer Howard or overpaying for a mediocre free agent. They also land a potential bullpen option with set-up man stuff in Dan Altavilla.

At the end of the off-season, I strongly suspect we will see Mitch Haniger in a Mariners uniform. But that doesn’t mean that trade talks won’t happen and it doesn’t mean a deal can’t happen. Ultimately, if another GM met Dipoto’s asking price, I believe Haniger will be moved. If just don’t believe the former is likely to happen.

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Only time will tell how this off-season plays out. But with the World Series just around the corner, we are inching closer to the official beginning of the glorious wonder that is the Hot Stove Season.