With the Hot Stove season approaching it’s time to look and see who the Mariners could potentially match up with in trade talks. One team the Mariners could match up well with is the Colorado Rockies.
On the surface, the Mariners and Rockies might not seem to be an obvious fit for a trade. Both teams are coming off of bad seasons (though it should be stated that the Rockies were actually trying to win this past season) and look to need retooling.
The Rockies though committed big dollars to Nolan Arenado last February and he wants to be a part of a winner, not a rebuild, so it would be in the Rockies best interest to look to boost the core around their star third baseman.
The issue in Colorado though is that they don’t have the budget to go big in free agency, meaning they’ll either have to look for cheap upgrades on the open market or make some trades to fill the holes in their lineup.
Of course, when any team browses the trade market Mariners’ General Manager Jerry Dipoto‘s spidey sense starts tingling as we all know how much Dipoto loves to make trades. Seattle becomes a fit for Colorado as the Mariners have the payroll flexibility to absorb a bad contract and depth in the outfield which is arguably one of Colorado’s biggest weaknesses.
While trading for Arenado or pitcher Jon Gray would be the desire of Mariners fans everywhere, Arenado isn’t going anywhere and for the sake of this exercise if the Rockies want to make a push for the playoffs, moving Gray just doesn’t make sense (though I do believe that if Gray goes on the market he is exactly the type of player the Mariners need to target to speed up the rebuild) for Colorado unless the return is too good to pass up.
The proposed trade would see the Mariners trying to fill their first base void for next year while providing the Rockies with some needed power in their outfield, a solid relief arm, and taking on some cash to give Colorado some needed financial flexibility.
First, let’s start with why the Rockies would do this. Moving McGee and his $9 million salaries is a good thing for Colorado. Plus McGee hasn’t been great over the last two seasons for the Rockies and might be in need of a change of scenery.
Adding Tuivailala would give the Rockies a stable (and cheap) presence in the bullpen, one that was highly effective after returning from injury for Seattle.
Losing McMahon might be a tough pill for the Rockies to swallow as he played first, second, and third base for the club this year; however, they need to create room in their infield for prospect Brendan Rodgers and they are lacking quality options in the outfield which might convince them to move one of their surplus of infielders to acquire an outfield bat-like, Santana.
If the Rockies feel comfortable with Santana’s medicals, adding Santana’s power bat to protect Arenado would help lengthen their lineup without sacrificing too much money or prospect capital.
In all Colorado would be sending out players earning about $10 million and bringing in Santana and Tuivailala who are projected by MLBTradeRumors to make $4.5 and $1 million respectively in arbitration this year, giving the Rockies an extra $4.5 million to make other moves with.
From Seattle’s side, the key to the deal is McMahon. McGee is the cost it takes in acquiring McMahon, but he is not utterly useless. The Mariners lack left-handed relief depth and while McGee hasn’t been great in the high altitude of Colorado the last two years, maybe the Mariners can get him back to his old ways and he can become a useful piece or a trade chip at the deadline. ‘
Essentially one should view McGee as this year’s Anthony Swarzak. McGee is set to make $9 million this year and then has a team option for the 2021 season that would most likely be declined by Seattle.
McMahon on the other turns 25 in December and could be a part of the core moving forward. In an earlier article, I wrote about targeting McMahon to fill out the Opening Day infield next year. McMahon has pop in his bat from the left side of the plate (24 home runs in 2019) as he put up numbers that were similar to Santana’s last season.
The difference is that McMahon does offer some value in the field as he played everywhere but shortstop last year for the Rockies. McMahon could easily be the first baseman for the Mariners next year or until Evan White is ready.
Once White is ready McMahon could move to a super-utility type of role where he could play second and third, or maybe McMahon just wins the second base job and Shed Long becomes the super-utility player the Mariners first envisioned.
It’s clear that the Mariners need to lessen the logjam in the outfield and Santana is a prime target to move so losing him isn’t a huge blow for Seattle. Losing Tuivailala might actually be the bigger loss for Seattle as some were projecting him to be the closer in 2020.
But the closer on a rebuilding team isn’t important and if moving him allows you to bring in someone that could turn into a building block for the future then you have to take that plunge.