Step 1: Seattle trades RHP Bryce Miller, LF Jarred Kelenic and OF Gabriel Gonzalez
The Mariners Justification for the Deal
To kick off the offseason, I want to strike quickly. The vibes around the franchise post-September collapse and the subsequent embarrassing interviews have put a dark cloud around the franchise. Faith from not just the fans and media, but the players as well, must be rekindled as soon as possible, and we believe Juan Soto would do that and then some.
Before we dive into this trade, I want to look back at a similar story to the Juan Soto saga, but on the hardwood. In the summer of 2018, the Toronto Raptors were at a crossroads. For five straight years, they had made the playoffs, and for five straight years, they had disappointed. They had two really good players in Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan that were good enough to get Toronto to the postseason but just didn’t have enough to get over the hump. Being in the Great North, it would be nearly impossible to sign a marquee free agent. They appeared stuck in the good not great purgatory of the NBA until a rare opportunity presented itself in the form of Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard, arguably one of the top 50 greatest players in NBA history, was a soon-to-be free agent and wanted out of San Antonio with the hopes of getting to his hometown, Los Angeles. Everyone knew Kawhi was just a one-year rental, with very little chance of convincing him to re-sign. It was assumed one of the California teams would pounce. Instead, the Raptors shocked the world, sending their beloved Demar Derozan and picks/young players to acquire a guy who didn’t want to be in Toronto. What happened next was the greatest season in Toronto Raptors history. They won epic playoff series after epic playoff series en route to a stunning NBA championship.
There was a celebration, a trophy, a parade, and memories to last a lifetime. Kawhi ended up leaving to go to Los Angeles, but to this day you won’t find a single fan or employee of the Raptors that would do it any differently. The Raptors chose to get uncomfortable. They chose to say goodbye to a loved one, to what they had always known for a shot at greatness.
Just like Kawhi Leonard was/is an all-time player, Juan Soto is an all-time player in a very similar situation. In the final year of his deal, Soto is widely expected to sign next season with a team on the East Coast so he can be closer to his family. The Mariners are a franchise that is caught in the middle of baseball purgatory, never bad enough or good enough to attain a true star that could get them over the top. The storylines between Seattle and Toronto are eerily similar.
The price of a potential star pitcher like Bryce Miller, the untapped potential of Jarred Kelenic, and a top-100 prospect in Gabi Gonzalez is steep. For the Mariners to truly step out of the shadows of 40+ years of disappointment and ineptitude, Soto is the type of player to help do that, even if it's just one year. We believe in the roster, and the farm system, that this won't be a one-year wonder, but a year to build off of, the first of many realistic championship runs.