The Seattle Mariners haven’t made an official move since the final day of the winter meetings when they made a selection in the Rule 5 Draft. But behind the scenes, there is interest in the surprising names.
The tweet that restarted Mariners Twitter came from Jon Heyman late last night. He reported that Marco Gonzales has been the subject of trade talks, but there is no indication these talks are anything more than just general questions about availability.
The vagueness of this tweet should be a major red flag. Heyman is just speculating that Gonzales may be available and if there is one thing we know about Heyman, it’s that he has no idea what the Mariners’ actual plan is and is far too lazy to figure it out.
But at least from his view of 50,000 feet above, the Mariners appear to be trying to dump everybody of value (they aren’t) and Gonzales falls into that camp. Over the past 2 seasons, Marco Gonzales has posted fWARs of 3.4 and 3.7, respectively.
These numbers are inflated thanks to his durability over the past few seasons. Gonzales is an accumulator more so than a Top 30 arm, but 200 innings of average or better pitching is still valuable. In fact, by fWAR, Gonzales was the 25th most valuable starter in all of baseball next year.
Now, expecting any pitcher in baseball to throw 200 innings today is a bit of a stretch, but Gonzales seems like a safe bet to throw around 180 innings every season, and to provide average or better production over that time, which is again valuable.
Gonzales also has 4-years of club control remaining and is only entering his age-28 season. So, in theory, Gonzales is a solid trade target. But teams who would be willing to pay prospect capital for a #4 are often contenders. And contenders often have a strong rotation in place. So finding a team with the prospects to get a deal done with a need for Gonzales is tough.
And while Gonzales is valuable on the trade market, he isn’t an ace or #2 starter. The Mariners aren’t getting a James Paxton package for Gonzales. And if the Mariners can’t get a couple of B+ type of prospects, they don’t have much of an incentive to trade him.
Seattle needs to cover those innings in 2020 and they like all the off the field things Gonzales brings to the table. He can lead a young staff trying to find its way in the big leagues and it is entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that he will still be under team control when the Mariners are making their next playoff push.
So while the Mariners are almost certainly getting calls on their lefty, the overwhelming odds point to Gonzales being more valuable to Seattle than any other team in baseball. And if that is the case, he isn’t going anywhere.
I imagine Heyman thinks Gonzales would be available. And in the right deal, he very well could be. But Seattle won’t be dumping him for less than 100% of the value they’ve put on him, and that valuation is likely higher in this organization than anywhere else in the game.