The MLB Hot Stove has turned from a blazing fire to a tepid spark and the Mariners can’t even find themselves mentioned in the fizzling rumor mill. But could the make a surprising splash?
We haven’t heard much from the Mariners in the past month. And what we have heard has largely been vague reports and wild speculation. But while the lack of official moves is staggering, there are still talks happening behind the scenes and Seattle is never one to show their cards publicly.
But the silence has reached an alarming level. Seattle still has quite a bit of work to do to even position themselves to survive the 2020 season without rushing guys to the major leagues. And while that is a real concern, today we are going to focus on a potential trade partner for Seattle’s best trade chip, Mitch Haniger.
Since the last rumors of the Diamondbacks reported interest in Haniger, there have been no rumors leaked to the press regarding any Haniger trade. The market on corner outfield bats has moved steadily, as most of the second and third level free agents are off the board. Marcel Ozuna is the big bat remaining, with Nick Castellanos a close second.
But Haniger is a better player who will likely make less in the next 3 years than Ozuna will get in 2020. For teams with deep farm systems, some financial restraints, playoff aspirations, and a desire to add a right-handed bat, Haniger makes a ton of sense. Do you know who matches pretty well? The Minnesota Twins.
The Twins are reportedly out on Josh Donaldson as the bidding has gone too far for them to acquire Donaldson and the lack of interest from Donaldson playing in Minnesota. When I speculated Minnesota as a potential landing spot, there was some blowback, mainly because the Twins have all 3 starters returning to their outfield.
But let’s talk through that. First, Byron Buxton has only played in 115 games in the past 2 seasons. Not exactly a guy you can count on for a full season. Eddie Rosario, the Twins left-fielder has been the subject of trade talks. Even if he isn’t traded, Rosario is coming off a sub-par season and Haniger is just straight-up better.
Max Kepler is coming off a career season and while he is a good player he may be a regression candidate. So yes, the Twins have a good outfield, but not one that can’t be improved.
As for whether or not the Twins have the prospects to make a trade happen, the answer is yes. Even if Minnesota made Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Brusdal Gaterol unavailable, a package centered around Jordan Balazovic or Trevor Larnach would be a fine place to start.
Because of the pursuit of Donaldson, we know the Twins are actively shopping for talent to help hold off the surging White Sox and the still present Cleveland Indians. While signing Marcel Ozuna may be easier, there are factors that need to be accounted for.
First, Ozuna will cost the Twins draft picks as he rejected the qualifying offer earlier this winter. Second, Ozuna is the best outfield bat remaining in the market and Minnesota isn’t a prime candidate to win a bidding war. Third and perhaps most importantly, Haniger is a better player than Ozuna.
At this stage, there are no perfect fits for Mitch Haniger. And the closer we get to Spring Training, the more it makes sense for the Mariners to hold onto him and retouch with teams in the middle of the 2020 season.
But while they aren’t the perfect fit, Minnesota is a good fit in trade talks with the Mariners. Whether or not the Twins are interested in Haniger at all, we don’t know. But while we wait for GM Jerry Dipoto to do anything at all, finding these trade fits are the best we can hope for.