The Seattle Mariners, along with the rest of baseball, are now in a lockout and left unable to make moves. However, there were some hints dropped in the past month about possible types of moves the Mariners could make. A possibility that President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto talked about on 710 ESPN Seattle was making trades where they take on a veteran with a big contract, in order to get a younger player who the team really wants. One such possibility lies in Arizona with the Diamondbacks.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are in a rebuild, plain and simple. On the other hand, the Mariners are ready to win. So, here is a deal to be made that helps both teams out:
First of all, the headliner in this trade for the Mariners is 27-year-old catcher, Carson Kelly. Kelly is one of the best catchers in baseball. With the bat, Kelly is an above average hitter. He posted a 103 wRC+ and slashed .240/.343/.411 in 2021, which is far better than anything the Mariners had at catcher last year. He also had 1.7 Fangraphs WAR in only 98 games last year, while missing time with a fractured toe and fractured wrist.
Defensively, Kelly is also average at worst. He was right about average in framing, in the 46th percentile according to Baseball Savant. For reference, Tom Murphy was in the 25th percentile, and Cal Raleigh was in the 39th, which proves that Kelly would be a big time upgrade both offensively and defensively for the Mariners at the catcher position. Kelly is also not a free agent until after the 2024 season, so Seattle would get a long term catcher.
The second player in this deal is Giants postseason hero Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner signed a big contract with the D-Backs before the 2020 season, which has some more inflated years here coming up, but has a lesser amount for his final year. He is slated to make $18 million the next two years, and then $14 million in the final year of his contract. That is a pretty pricey amount for the veteran Bumgarner, but if Arizona kicked some cash in, it could be better for Seattle.
Madison Bumgarner does have a contract that pays him too much for the value that he gives. However, he is not useless by any means. He is only 32 and can still have useful innings in him to help the Mariners. He was a 1.5 win player according to Fangraphs WAR in 2021, and had a FIP of 4.63, suggesting that he is slightly below average. Ideally, the Mariners should be able to make some adjustments with Bumgarner and help him return to form.
For the Diamondbacks, they are not even close to competing in 2022. They need to add prospects who will be a part of their next competitive window, and one way to do so could be by tapping into the Mariners’ rich farm system.
Arizona starts off the return package by acquiring Cal Raleigh, who is a good catching prospect for the future, despite his early struggles last year. Even Carson Kelly struggled to get playing time and show he could hit for his first three years in the big leagues. Raleigh can get a chance to grow in the majors for the D-Back, which gives them big upside and a good piece for the future who can be on the team right now.
Since Arizona gave some money to Seattle, they can get a better pitching prospect coming back in Connor Phillips. He is about a top-10 arm in Seattle’s system, would be a good fit for the Diamondbacks. Phillips is just 20 years old and will be able to offer a big upside as a middle-of-the-rotation piece for them in a few years.
Both of these players going back to Arizona give them a mix of young talent. Raleigh can be a current and future piece who they can let play now at catcher, while Phillips gives them a not too far-off pitcher who can be ready in a few years. The D-Backs don’t get a huge haul for Carson Kelly here because the contract of Madison Bumgarner going to Seattle relieves Arizona of a good chunk of money as they rebuild.