The Mariners are in a rare position. Not only are they coming off of a 90 win season with exciting young talent at the big league level, but they also have one of the best farm systems in baseball. Their system, teeming with elite, high-upside talent will soon be making their appearance in the big leagues and will be given every opportunity to develop on a team competing to end the playoff drought.
The 2021-2022 offseason is pivotal for Seattle. With the chance to seriously augment their roster to push them over the top, being active in all avenues of player acquisition is crucial. While they should go all-in on all the premier free agents, I propose that when exploring the trade market, Seattle would be best advised holding on to the bulk of their major prospect assets.
The Mariners, while an excellent team, should not be looking to close their window too rapidly. Acquiring assets that can remain with the team for multiple years needs to be the priority. That said, let’s dive into the proposed trade partner, the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies may be the complete antithesis of the Mariners. Philadelphia’s roster is overflowing with highly paid veterans centered around their “Big Three” of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler. Their farm system is barren, ranking 27th best in the league. With the generational Harper in the fold, Phillies ownership has shown interest in increasing the depth of their team, primarily on the mound.
Sporting one of the worst bullpens in the league and a middling rotation buoyed by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, the Phillies severely need to improve their pitching depth. Fortunately for them, the Mariners are overflowing with depth on the pitching side and should use this to their advantage. Let’s take a look at the prospective deal.
From Seattle’s perspective, they can capitalize on a point of depth (pitching) to fill a hole in their team. Outside of Kris Bryant, the third base market is devoid of available impact talent. Thus, in order to fill this hole with high upside potential, they must get creative. Insert Alec Bohm. Bohm, a former top prospect, has struggled during his time in the big leagues.
Slashing just .247/.305/.342 this season with poor defense, Bohm was sent down to the minors mid-season in order to work on his game and make way for a better player on a contending team.
This may sound like a step backward for the Mariners, however, the upside of Bohm is immense.
Sporting excellent exit velocities and elite minor league batting numbers, Bohm has shown that he has the ability to hit. If Bohm reaches just 80% of the hitter he was in the minor leagues, Seattle has obtained a valuable asset that can hold his own in the big leagues.
What remains to be seen is his defense, where there is a risk he is unable to stick at third base and would have to transition elsewhere. That being said, the Mariners and defensive guru Perry Hill have turned both J.P. Crawford and Ty France into Gold Glove caliber defenders. If anyone is able to fix his defensive struggles, it’s the Mariners.
The Phillies are reaching a breaking point. Their window is closing quickly and a bloated payroll with few assets is not a recipe for success. Acquiring both a high leverage reliever with multiple years of club control and a young starting pitcher who was a former top-100 prospect would be just what the Phillies needed.
This would allow them to spend big on a top free agent SS and move Jean Segura to 2B while having either Didi Gregorius, top prospect Bryson Stott, or another outside acquisition man 3B. If the Phillies want to acquire the impact talent they desire, they need to prioritize acquiring impact arms that are both controllable and cheap, and this deal accomplishes this while moving on from a player they clearly do not see fit for the job.
This trade is reminiscent of the J.P Crawford for Jean Segura trade of old. Acquiring a former top prospect that has struggled defensively and shown flashes offensively for a more established asset that can help them win now. I can see the Phillies wanting to offload payroll, potentially throwing in the pitiful contract of Didi Gregorius for an altered return in a different iteration of the trade.
However, whatever the specifics, the framework of a deal between Seattle and Philadelphia is there. Both teams acquire assets they can use to fill major holes and subsequently increase their odds of optimizing their windows of contention.