There is no question about it that the past calendar year for the Seattle Mariners has been about building for the future. And along the way, they have sacrificed wins in 2019 and probably 2020 to get there. But how many did they sacrifice?
We as Mariners fans have had to shift how we evaluate trades recently. In GM Jerry Dipoto‘s first 3 seasons, it was all about who the team got to help their current roster. Now, we are looking for what future value each trade brings us.
It is a much more, “big picture” view than many are used to. And while that view is really the only one that carries any weight, I thought it might be fun to go back and evaluate the rebuilding trades like we used to, when every single win mattered.
So let’s take a look at how some of the biggest trades of last winter impacted the 2019 Seattle Mariners, beginning, of course, with the biggest trade of them all.
In this deal, the Mariners also acquired Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak to help the Mets absorb some of the Robinson Cano contracts. So, how did this deal impact the 2019 Mariners? Probably not nearly as bad as you initially thought.
Edwin Diaz had a tough 2019 season, posting a -0.6 bWAR and Robinson Cano posted a well below-average 0.3 bWAR this season. So the Mets got a grand total of -0.3 bWAR from their two biggest off-season acquisitions.
Meanwhile, the Mariners’ side of this trade is a bit more complicated. Jarred Kelenic, the prize of the trade, didn’t make his MLB debut in 2019, so he is a non-factor for this particular discussion. Gerson Bautista, Justin Dunn, Anthony Swarzak, and Jay Bruce didn’t play a lot for the Mariners in 2019, so that also complicates things.
But let’s start with the two players who are still in the organization: Bautista and Dunn. Bautista appeared in just 8 games for Seattle and posted a -0.3 bWAR in those outings. Dunn got a small cup of coffee in September and posted a 0.2 bWAR in 6.2 innings, bringing that total to -0.1.
Bruce and Swarzak each appeared a bit more for the Mariners. Bruce played in 47 games, posting a 0.3 bWAR in that time, same as Cano. Swarzak appeared in 15 games with the Mariners, posting a -0.3 bWAR before he was flipped to Atlanta for Jesse Biddle.
So all 4 of the players acquired directly in the trade posted a combined -0.1 bWAR to the Mets -0.3. Technically, the Mariners ended up better in 2019 as a result of this trade. Obviously there are a million different factors in this type of assessment, but using our crude measurements, Seattle actually got more value for 2019 out of this trade than the Mets.
The most important factor in this trade remains the long-term success of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. But in our twisted little thought exercise, this trade actually made the Mariners slightly better in 2019 and isn’t that just the stupidest thing?