There has been a ton of chatter surrounding the Mariners' cost-controlled arms, mainly Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, and Bryan Woo. There is no world where Jerry Dipoto, the President of Baseball Operations, ships Gilbert off for offense because the asking price will be too much for teams to handle. If Gilbert were made available, he'd immediately be the second or third-best arm on the market. MLB insider Jon Morosi joined Seattle Sports' Wyman and Bob this week and specifically mentioned Miller and Woo because they are less proven and will more than likely cost less both in dollars and prospects. However, even with less of a track record than the 26-year-old Gilbert, the two sophomore starters could help them get a significant offensive piece.
"Miller has high value. Maybe not as much as (Logan) Gilbert, but I do think that, for example, theoretically, if you were going to have a conversation with the Guardians about Josh Naylor, you should be able to have that conversation with Miller."- Jon Morosi on Bryce Miller's trade value
While Naylor would look spectacular in a Mariner uniform because he fits the "Dominate the Zone" mold, the situation begs one to wonder if holding onto their talented, cost-controlled hurlers might be the better play. The reasons for keeping Miller and Woo are three-fold.
First, we are discussing an organization Dipoto built on pitching and defense. They've already lost veteran southpaw Marco Gonzales in a salary dump trade, Robbie Ray is out until midseason, and Emerson Hancock is coming off a should injury. Suddenly, the Mariners lack depth behind the projected five starters (Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Gilbert, Miller, and Woo). There's an adage in baseball, "You can never have enough pitching, and when you think you have enough, you need more." That's strike one against trading Miller or Woo.
Second, with financial restrictions putting a damper on Dipoto and General Manager Justin Hollander's offseason plan, jettisoning two high-upside arms, making the league minimum ($720K) for the next few years seems counterintuitive. If anything, the front office would hold their cost-controlled arms for as long as possible. Because if they decide to trade Miller, Woo, or even Gilbert, they'll need a replacement, and that guy will surely command more than the league minimum. Strike two.
Lastly, the Astros and Rangers have dynamic offenses that are deep. Those two teams could field the entire American League all-star team from a position-player standpoint and beat the National League in the midsummer classic. Think about it: Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, Josh Jung, Jonah Heim, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Jose Altuve, and the list goes on and on. The only equalizer the cash-strapped Mariners have is their pitching. Why would they rob Peter to pay Paul when they have to battle high-octane offenses in the AL West? Strike three.
It doesn't make sense to trade any of their arms, and the fact is Dipoto should probably be doubling down on quality hurlers. Bryan Woo will be on an innings limit, as he only threw 87 innings in 2023. That means the team will need spot starters to help get Woo through the season; enter Emerson Hancock or Darren McCaughan. The Mariners don't have a track record of bringing free-agent bats into the fold. The most expensive free agent position player Dipoto signed during his tenure is AJ Pollock, who signed in for $7M last season. Now, pitchers, that's another story. Robbie Ray and Luis Castillo inked long-term deals with Seattle because they know the value of T-Mobile Park for pitchers. Why not make your strength even more dynamic? Chances are the bats aren't coming to town.