Mariners Trade Deadline Primer: Who's the next Carlos Santana?

Division Series - Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros - Game Two
Division Series - Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros - Game Two / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Jesus Aguilar, Ramon Laureano
Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Mariners Trade Option #1: Raid the Bay?

In the 2010s, some of the best baseball in the league could be found in the Bay area. While the Giants were building their mini-dynasty, the Oakland A's were rolling their Moneyball ways to playoff berths in 5 out of 8 years, winning two AL West titles. Those days seem long gone. While the Giants are battling just to stay above .500, the Oakland A's are on pace to be the worst baseball team in MLB history. That doesn't mean there are no valuable players on Oakland's roster, and OF Ramon Laureano and DH Jesus Aguilar just may be looking for an escape.

Laureano and Aguilar have seen better days and better teams. In Laureano's first four years in the big leagues (2018-2021) he averaged an OPS+ of 117 to go with his spectacular defense. As the Athletics have fallen off the map, Laureano's bat has struggled as well. Laureano's OPS+ dropped to 94 last year, and is currently sitting at 89 this season with a career-worst OBP of .275. Despite the lack of offense, Laureano has still posted a 1.2 WAR on the season, showing he is still one of the very best right fielders in the game.

Jesus Aguilar was the second-best player on the best team in the National League in 2018. An all-star and an MVP candidate, Aguilar crushed 35 homers and 25 doubles with an OPS+ of 135 while getting the Brewers within 1 game of the World Series. Decent following years in Tampa Bay and Miami have given way to declining years on some bad teams. This season, Aguilar is posting an 89 OPS+ while hitting .221 with 5 home runs. 

Neither of these players are going to come in and be stars, but they could both fill holes in the lineup and add a layer of depth that is sorely needed. Aguilar is performing a little worse than Carlos Santana was before Seattle acquired him last summer and his OPS+ jumped from 96 to 100. It wasn’t much, but it was a sizable jump in production for a lineup with no DH last year. This year’s DH group is performing just as bad as last year, and a potentially remotivated Aguilar could see a jump while chasing one last postseason run. 

Laureano has a few years on his contract, but with his contract likely jumping up to $5 million plus next year, it’s easy to see Oakland wanting to move that contract in their intentional dive to Loserville. Laureano likely would be the Mariners new 4th outfielder, or possibly moving to RF and bumping Teoscar Hernandez to the DH spot. With Julio, Kelenic, and Laureano in the outfield, Seattle would arguably have the best defensive trio roaming the outfield in baseball. Laureano can steal a base (4SB), and has some pop (5HR’s). He’s a guy that played like a borderline all-star back when the A’s were in the playoffs, and I could see a fresh start being big for the 28-year-old.