The offseason rumor mill has been flying. The Mariners seem to be mentioned in just about every free agent rumor, along with every trade rumor so far. This can be one of the most fun times of the baseball calendar, but it could also be one of the most disappointing times (see last offseason). I would like to think the Mariners front office and ownership group felt the same level of disappointment as us fans did, and if that is the case, I surely hope the team is more aggressive with roster moves.
One of those moves could come from a team that the Mariners have dealt with a lot over the years, the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds have a good problem to have, in that they have too much infield talent. The Reds currently have Elly De La Cruz at third base, Matt McLain at shortstop, Jonathan India at second base and Spencer Steer at first base. The Reds already decided not to pick up Joey Votto's contract. The Reds also have old friend Noelvi Marte, Nick Senzel, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand available to play the infield. Parsing together everything from MLBTR, Jeff Passan, and Bob Nightengale, it does seem like Jonathan India is likely to be traded.
Why would the Reds trade Jonathan India?
Jonathan India won the Rookie of the Year award in 2021, has club control through the 2026 season, and is just 26 years old. He begins his first year of arbitration this offseason, and according to MLB Trade Rumors, his projected salary will be $3,700,000 in 2024. Besides Nick Senzel, the players the Reds have that I mentioned before are all pre-arbitration players, so moving India and/or Nick Senzel makes the most sense for the Reds. Arguably, Jonathan India would bring in a much better haul than Nick Senzel would.
The Reds are almost a mirror opposite team to the Seattle Mariners. They need pitching and the M's need offense. According to Nick Deeds of MLB Trade Rumors, He lists the Mariners as a fit for Jonathan India. The Mariners have some pitching they can deal, and more if they are able to sign Blake Snell, the hometown kid. Marco Gonzales, Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo, Emerson Hancock and maybe even Logan Gilbert could be available.
How is Jonathan India a fit for the Mariners?
Jonathan India can hit. In 2023, his slash line was .244/.338/.746 with an OPS+ of 100. Yeah I know, those numbers are not amazing. But he did hit 17 home runs, drove in 61, and stole 14 bases. His strikeout rate has gone down every season, from 22.4% in his rookie season, to 21.8% in 2022, to 20.6% in 2023. That is 2.2% below the league average. He also walked at a 9.8% clip in 2023, 1.2% higher than the MLB average. While is is not going to win a batting title, he brings stability to the second base position the Mariners have desperately needed since the Robinson Cano days.
Should the Mariners trade for India, I would not be sending Logan Gilbert or Bryce Miller in a 1-1 swap. Should the Mariners send either of those guys, the Reds would have to send back quite a bit more than just India. Prospects like old friend INF Edwin Arroyo, INF Cam Callier, RHP Chase Petty, or OF Rece Hinds could tag along with India to nap one of Gilbert or Miller. I would be much more comfortable in trading Bryan Woo for Jonathan India straight up. I think that deal would be a win for both clubs. As always, Go Mariners!