It is no secret that Jerry Dipoto and Erik Neander have made deals together before. The Mariners have reaped benefits from deals with the reigning runner-up before, such as the Denard Span/Alex Colome deal in 2018. On a recent episode of The Wheelhouse Jerry praised the Rays, he even went so far as to say that they strive to be them.
The Rays are well known to have a very successful farm, with an abundance of pitching development and electric arms. However, they have something the Mariners desperately need, infield depth. The Mariners have one infielder on their top 10 list. All signs point to the Mariners and Rays lining up another deal, but would they link up again this year?
Four of Tampa’s top six prospects are shortstops, including the consensus top prospect in baseball Wander Franco. Taylor Walls was also on the list but just graduated prospect status. With a team in win-now mode, the Rays could be motivated to move one or more of these prized infielders for support to help them get over the hump.
Tampa Bay’s infield depth and the Mariners lack of it make them prime trade partners at this year’s deadline.
My personal favorite of this group and the one that fits this Mariners team-best is Xavier Edwards. Edwards is a premium prospect but would cost considerably less than a higher-ranked player like Vidal Brujan.
Edwards would bring supreme athleticism to second base or shortstop for the Mariners. He does not have much pop, but he makes up for it in on-base percentage and speed. The switch hitter is sporting an exact .400 OBP through his minor league career, and currently is running a .333/.429/.386 line this season in Double-A according to Fangraphs. He also carries an 80-grade run tool, which is as fast as they come.
Edwards controls the zone extremely well and is a phenomenal athlete not too far from making his debut. He seems like the perfect fit at second base for the Mariners moving forward.
The other player I would love to see Jerry add if the Rays are unwilling to give up on Edwards is Greg Jones, a shortstop in high A for the Rays and their 6th prospect. Similar to Edwards; Jones is also a FAST switch hitter, graded as a 70-grade runner by Fangraphs.
Jones has more impressive power, launching 12 home runs already in his 2021 campaign. He is further away from the big leagues, but worth acquiring from Tampa’s extreme depth. He is an exciting and versatile talent that the Mariners could reasonably acquire.
These players would give the Mariners a legit infield prospect to pair with Noelvi Marte in the top 10. The Mariners desperately need infield depth in their minor leagues, and calling the Rays is the best way to get it. Pick up the phone Jerry.