The Seattle Mariners just won their 50th game of the season, as they won yet another series against a divisional foe in the Anaheim Angels. They currently sit 2.5 games behind the slumping Oakland A’s and are in a dog fight for the second wild-card slot. Scott Servais has been clear that the Mariners will act as both buyers and sellers at the trade deadline, but for the Seattle Mariners to seriously involve themselves in the postseason race down the stretch they’ll need to address the gaping hole in their starting rotation.
Justus Sheffield has struggled, Marco Gonzalez hasn’t looked like himself, and the Mariners now find themselves living and dying on quality starts from Logan Gilbert, Chris Flexen, and Yusei Kikuchi.
This is the first of a series of articles that will dive into potential trade partners for the Seattle Mariners to understand how the team can bolster their rotation to make a run at the 2021 postseason. As a side note, all potential trades were evaluated using Baseball Trade Values to assess the level of confidence that a trade would be accepted. The first trade partner to focus on is a familiar foe: the Texas Rangers.
Potential Seattle Mariners Trade Partner: Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers currently have a <0.1% chance of making the postseason and are dead last in the AL West standings. Given that the Rangers are almost certainly trading Joey Gallo away, the Seattle Mariners could view the Rangers as a good destination for either Jake Fraley (10-day COVID list) or Mitch Haniger.
Fraley fits a few needs for the Rangers, as Eli White’s OPS+ of 67 pales in comparison to Fraley’s 143 so Fraley’s versatility would be welcomed in Arlington. The Rangers could also use an upgrade at catcher, which is another area where the Mariners have a wealth of riches.
The Seattle Mariners go for Kyle Gibson (2.29 ERA, 195 ERA+, 4.1 WAR)
Kyle Gibson has been widely reported as someone teams will target. The issue for the Mariners is that they will be competing against teams like the Dodgers and Astros for Gibson’s services. According to Baseball Trade Values, Gibson carries a median trade value (MTV) of $8.6M.
The Mariners might have to send a combination of Jake Fraley ($4.6M MTV) and Cal Raleigh ($11.2M MTV) to get the trade done, but offering either Tom Murphy ($4.2M MTV) or Luis Torrens ($3.7M MTV) would be preferred.
It’s also possible that the Mariners have to offer Haniger ($17.9M MTV) for Gibson as a result of the competition involved. Although it is a sad thought, it wouldn’t be unexpected considering the rumors that Haniger wants out of Seattle.
The addition of Gibson to the Seattle Mariners rotation would instantly catapult them into consideration as a favorite to make the postseason. The Mariners can easily handle the financial burden of taking on his contract, even with the dollars the team has set aside for extending Kikuchi. Accomplishing this trade would make Logan Gilbert our number four pitcher, which makes us downright scary.
Texas Rangers Honorable Mentions
Assuming a major franchise gets Gibson, there are other options in the Rangers’ rotation that are worth pursuing. Kolby Allard (3.69 ERA, 122 ERA+, 1.0 WAR) was traded to the Rangers from the Braves in 2019 and is currently on a 1-year deal at the league minimum ($584,250).
He’s a young arm (23 years old) with a $7.0M mean trade value, which would make a trade for Jake Fraley ($4.6 MTV) and Kendall Graveman ($2.3M MTV) likely to be successful. Allard would also round out an incredibly good 4-man rotation with Gonzalez/Dunn at the fifth spot.
Mike Foltynewicz (5.11 ERA, 88 ERA+, 0.5 WAR) is not as good as the first two options, but he’s currently in the final year of his contract and would make for a low-cost improvement to the rotation.
His mean trade value of $-0.3M would make a straight-up trade for Jose Godoy ($0.2M MTV) possible, and he’d offer higher quality starts than what we’ve been forced to watch from Marco and Justus.
The Mariners should show some urgency with addressing the starting pitching need, given the large number of teams that are in the SP market. Dipoto likes to jump early on the market, so it’s possible that the Mariners try to make a move sooner than later. The sooner the better, given the gaping hole at the 5-spot in our rotation.