We're in the middle of winter, and for a first-time Midwesterner, it's been torture for me. The temperatures are below freezing. I'm wearing three layers of clothing to get out the door. I'm guzzling warm drinks every few hours. EVERYTHING is frozen!
It's almost as if we could say the same about the baseball trade market. It was frozen solid until last week when we saw a blockbuster transaction. The Minnesota Twins shipped American League batting champion Luis Arraez to South Florida for solid mid-rotation starter and former Mariner Pablo Lopez. Mariners President of Baseball Operations, Jerry Dipoto, joined Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports 710 and offered his assessment of the market and what he expects in the coming weeks.
"“I would be shocked if we didn’t see multiple trades between now and Spring Training just based on the rhetoric we’ve been hearing,” added Dipoto. “Whether we are among them remains to be seen. But I think the WBC will force teams to look at options and speed up the process of rounding out their rosters.” "- Jerry Dipoto
I learned from these comments that conversations are happening, but Dipoto might be sitting this out. We’ve speculated and pitched possible trades all offseason (Bryan Reynolds, Randy Arozarena, Max Kepler). Manager Scott Servais could use any of those players to round out a lineup lacking another bat, but plenty of current Mariners could fill that role.
Tommy La Stella: LH bat coming off down year (76 wRC+), CTZ, positional flexibility (1B/3B/DH)
Colin Moran: LH power bat coming off down year (86 wRC+ in 40 games) but carries a 100 OPS+ over the last five seasons. Positional flexibility (1B/3B/DH)
Jason Vosler: Above-average bat (127 wRC+) in about 35 games, positional flexibility (1B/2B/3B/OF/DH)
Cooper Hummel: Switch-hitter, CTZ, positional flexibility (C/LF/RF/DH). Nice Homer Highlight Here.
Evan White: Injury prone, elite defensively, above-average speed, possible positional flexibility (1B/LF/DH)
That’s a lot to digest. La Stella and White are coming off serious injuries. Hummel controls the zone but struggled in his first big league stint last year (66 games) with a .176/.274/.307 slash line. Moran couldn’t hit in the bandbox called Great American Ballpark, and most people would say Vosler is a Tacoma depth piece. Each player has his warts, but you don't need the perfect player when talking about the 26th spot on the roster. You need someone who can fill a role and add value part-time.
When you look at current external options like Max Kepler and CJ Cron, would you trade Taylor Dollard, Prelander Berroa, or even Top 100 prospect Bryce Miller for a guy that might play 25% of the time or affect the way you utilize your entire bench in late-game situations? Probably not.
Barring a spring training bombshell (See Suarez, Winker) and a change of heart by Dipoto, we're in for an intriguing battle between La Stella, Moran, Hummel, White, and Vosler in the warm Arizona sunshine. That sounds beautiful for a guy who's braving 18-degree weather in Minnesota.