Jerry Dipoto was hired as the GM of the Seattle Mariners just before the end of the 2015 season and in that time, he’s made more than 100 trades. How did they work out for Seattle?
The Seattle Mariners have made a lot of trades the past 4+ years. Or rather, Jerry Dipoto has made a lot of trades in the past 4 years. With some time on our hands as we wait for the end of the shutdown to come and Mariners baseball to return, we have decided to grade (almost) every trade Dipoto has ever made.
In this series, we will tackle all the trades that involve at least one player exchanging teams and on a rare instance, we will look at some of the deals that were for cash or international slot money. While a deal may have made sense at the time it was made, a lot of these deals have tangible results we can grade the deal on.
Some will be great, others okay, and some will be bad. That is the nature of the beast. And while we don’t have enough data on a lot of these trades to accurately decide whether or not it was good, we still should be able to offer an opinion on each and every one. So with all that in mind, let’s get started.
Jerry Dipoto Trade #1: Danny Farquhar, Brad Miller, and Logan Morrison to the Tampa Bay Rays for Nate Karns, Boog Powell, and C.J. Riefenhauser
What a shock! Jerry Dipoto’s first trade as the Mariners GM was with the Tampa Bay Rays? Who would have guessed? In truth, Dipoto has made a lot of trades with the Rays, 9 by our count, but very few have been as big as his first.
Just over a month after getting the job, Dipoto shipped a quality middle reliever, starting shortstop, and starting first baseman to the Rays for a trio of players. The “big prize” of the deal for Dipoto was RHP Nate Karns. A bit of a late bloomer, Karns was coming off a breakout season at the age of 27, having made 26 starts for the 2015 Rays.
Karns was pretty good for Tampa, eating 147 innings with 145 strikeouts, a 3.67 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and a 4.09 FIP. This profiled well as a #3 or #4 starter and Seattle was in need of some quality starting pitching.
Seattle would also acquire Boog Powell, a solid outfield prospect with a knack for getting on base whose power had begun to develop. In reality, he was Dipoto’s first crack at finding Ben Gamel. Riefenhauser was nothing more than a throw-in.
Unfortunately for Dipoto and the Mariners, neither Powell nor Karns lived up to expectations. Karns was okay in 2016, posting a 4.05 FIP in 15 starts, but he struggled with his command and was demoted to the bullpen, a move that didn’t sit well with Karns.
He would be traded that winter after giving the Mariners just 0.1 bWAR in his lone season. Powell started off great with his new organization, tearing the cover off the ball in AAA Tacoma. Powell would make his debut in 2017, but his time was limited to just 23 games where he struggled before being traded in August of that season after posting a -0.1 bWAR, giving Seattle a grand total of a 0.0 bWAR between Powell and Karns.
Meanwhile, Miller would post 2.2 bWAR in 2.5 seasons in Tampa and had a 30 home run season in 2016. Morrison would be even more valuable. In 2017, he would blast 38 home runs and post a .868 OPS on his way to a 3 win season. Overall, he posted a 3.6 bWAR in his 2-years with Tampa.
Farquhar was solidly unspectacular, as he was with Seattle, but managed to post a 0.7 bWAR in 1.5 years with the Rays. In the end, this trade netted the Rays a total of 6.7 wins to the Mariners return of 0.0 WAR.
Clearly, the Rays got the better end of this deal. But despite the failures of his first trade, Dipoto would actually use both of the MLB players he got in this deal to net productive contributors in a playoff chase and show that he wasn’t going to wait around to move on from mistakes. This trade by itself leaves a lot to be desired. But the resulting action after this trade should have been a positive sign to Mariners fans that their future might be different than their past.