Breaking down the Mariners’ trade of Omar Narváez to Milwaukee
One of the game’s best offensive catchers is packing his bags for the Cream City.
Welp, Jerry Dipoto has finally done the deed—his first big trade of the offseason. The Mariners have dealt catcher Omar Narváez to the Brewers for right-handed pitching prospect Adam Hill and a Competitive Balance Round B draft pick, which is currently slotted as the 70th selection in next June’s draft.
This trade comes as no surprise given Jeff Passan’s report last week that the Mariners were actively shopping Narváez and a deal ‘could be completed soon.’ It took the M’s nine days to hammer it out, but Narváez is now on his way out, leaving the door open for Tom Murphy and Austin Nola to assume catching duties in Seattle.
Mariners will know that losing Narváez’s bat hurts, but it’s his defense (or lack thereof) that ultimately makes this deal palatable. While Narváez certainly made improvements down the stretch of the 2019 season and probably isn’t as bad as his league-worst -8.6 defensive WAR suggests, he’s still not the ideal everyday catcher for a contending team.
And that is well reflected in the return the Mariners received. With the pitcher Hill, you get a 22-year-old righty who’s in the mid 90s on his fastball and has two potentially plus pitches with his slider and changeup. He made strides in using his entire repertoire effectively this season, but still struggled a bit on the mechanical side of things, walking opposing hitters to the tune of a 4.07 BB/9 last year in A-ball.
Developing young pitching has seemed to be this Mariners regime’s strongest point over the last few years, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do with Hill. There’s potential here of a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but at the very least, you may be looking at a good late-inning reliever. We’ll learn a lot about Hill next year, as he’ll have to fight his way through both the Cal League and (hopefully, if everything goes well) the Texas League on the High-A and Double-A circuits, respectively.
While Hill is definitely interesting, the real meat and potatoes of this deal is the Competitive Balance Round B selection the Mariners also secured. Seattle acquired one of these last year, along with Edwin Encarnación, when they traded Carlos Santana to the Indians. That pick wound up being the 76th overall selection in the draft, which turned into Arkansas product Isaiah Campbell. For context, Campbell now sits on the edge of our personal top 10 rankings of a strong Mariners’ farm system.
As of now, the pick the Mariners have acquired sits at 70th overall, but could jump its way up a few spots as free agency shakes out. Seattle will now have four picks within the top 100, and five within the top 125. More importantly, the extra pick gives them more bonus pool money, which could, in theory, allow them to spend big on a first-round talent who may fall due to signability concerns.
Fans will have to play the long game with this trade. It may not seem like much at this time, but depending on who they draft with this selection (or what the extra bonus pool money may allow them to do), this could be a really beneficial trade for the Mariners in the end.