Three bold moves the Mariners can make at the deadline

Washington Nationals v St. Louis Cardinals - Game Two
Washington Nationals v St. Louis Cardinals - Game Two / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

There are many good vibes this Monday morning, at least if you are a Mariner fan. The team took the series against the Blue Jays, a team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. With a week left before the Major League Baseball trade deadline, the hometown team is embarking on a season-defining road trip, and it won't be easy. The homer-happy Minnesota Twins and upstart Arizona Diamondbacks are on the schedule. If the Mariners can use a fantastic series against the Jays as fuel with a 4-2 road trip, there might be a case for making three bold moves.

Acquire a reliable veteran bat

The New York Mets aren't going to have a fire sale, but they will more than likely jettison role players for prospects. One of those types is Mark Canha, a versatile position player who takes his walks (10.7), strikes out below league average (17.2), and is just the kind of nuisance this team needs for the stretch run. This move would give manager Scott Servais more defensive flexibility and provide depth to the lineup. He's an above-average left-field defender, as evidenced by his three assists last night on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

MLB insider Buster Olney connected the Mariners and Mets as possible trade partners this week. With the team holding a 2024 club option, Canha is more than just a rental. It would cost the Mariners a prospect in the 20-30 range and a lottery ticket in the Arizona Complex League or Dominican Summer League. The Mets need pitching prospects, and the Mariners have them in waves. President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto would ship 20-year-old right-hander Michael Morales and lefty reliever Brayan Perez in this trade. 

AJ Pollock gets designated for assignment and Cade Marlowe goes back to Tacoma, only because he has remaining minor league options and Taylor Trammell doesn't.

Cashing in on the closer market

Do you know what the hottest commodity is this time of year? High-leverage relievers who have career years with additional years of control. The Mariners have arguably the best of that bunch, and the return could be enormous. For some context, the Yankees sent Andrew Miller to the then-Cleveland Indians seven years ago for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen. Like Paul Sewald, the longtime closer had two months and a year of control. If you tell me, erasing the outcome of said prospects, we'd net four players with those skills, I'd pull the trigger every time. 

Sewald is having his best season as a Mariner amassing a 2.95 ERA, 1.008 WHIP, 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and a career-best 4.46 strikeouts-to-walk ratio. Plenty of teams would jump at the chance to short the game with Sewald. With the three-wild card format, more teams are in play. I'd sell Sewald to the highest bidder and elevate Andres Munoz to the closer spot. 

This move might have the 'Kendal Graveman' effect, but it would allow the team to call up Tacoma Rainiers closer Riley O'Brien, also having a career year. 

Add in 2023, build for 2024 

You've probably heard it before; the Mariners have a hole at second base. Jose Caballero has plateaued, which isn't a bad thing. He's a great player to have on your bench. The 26-year-old can play multiple positions, works an at-bat, and has plus speed. Kolten Wong is starting to turn it on (.289) over his last six games, but he is a free agent after this season. 

Dipoto came on Seattle Sports 710, the morning show Brock and Salk, hinting toward a trade deadline approach centered on building for 2024. 

"We are headed into the trade deadline. We've not really separated ourselves in a meaningful way to be aggressive on the buying end, but we're constantly trying to find ways to make ourselves better," Dipoto said. "We'll use these next couple of weeks of July to consider those ways, whether it's better to make a push for the 2023 season or to better situate ourselves for 2024."

Jerry Dipoto

Where could the Mariners look to acquire a player that fits the long-term vision of this team? No other than the disappointing St. Louis Cardinals. General Manager Mike Girsch should be on Dipoto's speed dial. The Cards need pitching, as they are losing 4/5th of their rotation to free agency next season. As for the Mariners, they excel at developing arms, but what they need is a high-on base spark plug who "dominates the zone." That player is utility man Brendan Donovan. 

It will cost the Mariners a pretty penny, but you must give up something to get something. In this scenario, Dipoto sends Emerson Hancock, Michael Morales, and Juan Pinto, all right-handed starters, to the Cards for three years of Brendan Donovan. Hancock is on a tear right now and could start for the Cardinals today. 

Morales and Pinto are a couple of years away, but they provide needed pitching depth in a system filled with position players. In all honesty, the Mariners will likely give more up in this deal because if Donovan is on the market, other teams will want him. I'd still do it if it meant floating outfielder Jonathan Clase or Bryan Woo instead of Hancock. The Mariners need contact hitters who work walks, and Donovan fits the bill. 

These moves follow Dipoto's trade model in acquiring players with control and fit the team's dominate the zone approach. But the best thing about these moves is they might create some positive momentum for a team hovering on the buy or sell line.