While we all wait for the return of Mariners baseball, we have an opportunity to reflect on some of the franchises’ rich history. Today, we see how Jerry Dipoto‘s most controversial trade (at the time) ended up becoming a huge success.
What are the 10 best trades in Seattle Mariners history? Well, what they are, first and foremost, are entirely subjective. While we can add together the numbers and find the statistically best trade, we won’t be doing that in this series. Instead, we will be blending our statistical analysis with several x-factors, including what the deal meant for the team at one time.
Remember, winning trade is good. But even an inconclusive trade or one that both sides benefit from isn’t bad. The goal isn’t to win every trade, the goal is to win games and to improve your team to help you win as many games as possible. Basically, a trade doesn’t have to be a disaster for one team for that trade to be considered for this list.
As I said, we won’t be laser-focused on the WAR outcomes (though those are part of our analysis), but rather what the trade brought the team in return. With that in mind, let’s reveal the 7th best trade in Mariners’ history.
Mariners trade Tyler O’Neill to St. Louis for LHP Marco Gonzales
I’ve written about my affinity for this trade a few times, so it should be little surprise to any of our long time readers to find this trade on the list. Part of the reason I love it is because I was so wrong about after my initial assessment.
I didn’t like the deal when it happened on July 21st of 2017 and begin to seriously doubt the abilities of Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto as a result. But here we sit, 2.5 years later and this trade is undoubtedly one of the franchises best and it has very little to do with the cost to acquire. Tyler O’Neill was a Top 100 prospect for a reason and still has plenty of upside left in his game.
However, Marco Gonzales has already spent two seasons as the best pitcher in the organization and was/is likely headed towards a threepeat in 2020. He has been everything the franchise could have hoped for and more. He has stayed healthy, eaten innings, provided reliability, looked like a high-end #3 for extended stretches and has embodied what the team wants from the starters going forward.
In terms of franchise value, Gonzales’ 7.4 fWAR already ranks him as the 19th most valuable starter in franchise history(300 IP minimum) and it only took him 2 full seasons to get there. Gonzales recently signed a 4-year extension that keeps him under the Mariners control until after the 2024 season, with a 5th-year option that could keep him in Seattle until 2025.
If Gonzales averages even a modest 2.0 fWAR over the next 6 seasons (obviously trades are a possibility), Gonzales will have posted a 19.4 fWAR in his Mariners career, which would make him the 7th most valuable pitcher in franchise history.
Gonzales’ career story is yet to be written. In 5 years, we could be looking at one of the 5 best trades in franchise history. Or we could be looking at a good but no great trade. But when it comes to Marco Gonzales, I am done counting him out of any possibility.