Not evern top Mariners starter Marco Gonzales should be off limits, writes Jim Moore. (AP)
With the July 31 MLB trade deadline less than two weeks away, who would you keep and who would you trade if you were Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto?
It seems to me that everyone’s available aside from J.P. Crawford, who for the most part appears to be the shortstop of the future in spite of his recent slump – Crawford’s hitting .159 in July.
Marco Gonzales and Mitch Haniger were supposedly on Dipoto’s keeper list, projected to be centerpieces of contending teams in the 2020s. But Gonzales, after a fast start, has not been consistent, and he looks to me to be a third starter at best in a future rotation. Haniger won’t be traded because he is still on the mend from a ruptured testicle, but I’d argue that they would have been selling low on him anyway before he got hurt because of a .220 batting average that featured too many strikeouts.
Unless they turn it around in the last 60 games – or in Haniger’s case, the last 40 games – I’d put them up for grabs in the offseason trade market.
You know who is the only player I’d like to see them keep no matter what? Reliever Austin Adams. I know he’s on the injured list now, but he showed some serious stuff out of the bullpen, especially with a wipeout slider.
I want to be bullish on Yusei Kikuchi, but if Dipoto traded him tomorrow, I’d shrug and wonder what he got in return. Have you seen anything dazzling from Kikuchi? I haven’t either. But maybe we need to be more patient and wait for him to make an adjustment from Japan. Maybe he needs another season or two before we see the pitcher we hoped to see when the Mariners signed him.
Mike Leake and Dee Gordon are the players I want to see dealt yesterday or today, and if not yesterday or today, tomorrow – as soon as possible. I don’t even care what the Mariners get in return. Free up the payroll for future free agents that will supplement the blossoming youngsters who are in the minor leagues now.
I’ve never thought Leake was worth the money you’re paying him – $16 million this year, and you’re on the hook for $15 million in 2020 and $18 million in 2021. I like Gordon, but he doesn’t seem completely focused during this period of uncertainty, and he’s not worth what you’re paying him either – $13 million this year, $13.5 million next year and $14 million in 2021.
Trade them both and free up a spot in the rotation for Justus Sheffield and a spot at second base for Shed Long.
Until they trade some of these veterans, I can’t imagine the Mariners having anything but a disjointed clubhouse. In Leake’s and Gordon’s defense, they’re probably wondering where they’re going to end up, and it has to affect their performance. I think it will be addition by subtraction once they’re gone.
Crazy as it sounds, and as unlikely as it is to happen, I’d keep Roenis Elías and Tim Beckham.
I like Elías, for the most part, because of how he’s looked as a reliever. He turns 31 next month and will still be in his early to mid 30s when the Mariners are expected to contend.
Keeping Beckham makes no sense at all, but I vote for keeping him anyway because it’s an option for a replacement at third base for Kyle Seager for the rest of the year. A longtime Seager fan, I’ve given up hope for him. I know you’d sacrifice defense with Beckham at third, but I’d rather see Beckham in the batter’s box. Just for the sake of this lost season, give me Beckham at third or at least think about platooning Seager with Beckham.
I haven’t mentioned the surprisingly terrific catching combination of Omar Narváez and Tom Murphy. Here’s what I’d say about them – if you want ’em, make Jerry an offer. I’m hoping Cal Raleigh, who was promoted to Double-A this week, will be ready to be the full-time catcher in two to three years. Am I nuts? Have I seen what Narváez has done offensively this year? Yes and yes. I’m just saying that Narváez might be one of your best trade chips on a team that doesn’t have too much to offer. Plus there’s a chance his increased power is simply there because the balls are juiced.
Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana? I haven’t seen enough from them to think they’re keepers either. I like them, but they both have defensive shortcomings, and Santana’s such a free swinger that he leads MLB in strikeouts. With Santana, forget what Dipoto said about controlling the zone.
And I’d even make my favorite Mariner, Daniel Vogelbach, available. He’s hitting .135 in July and .130 against left-handers this season. Evan White’s the future first baseman, and Vogey’s inability to hit lefties makes him a suspect choice as a DH in the 2020s.
So basically, if Dipoto asked me what he should do, I’d tell him to keep Adams, Elías and Beckham and put pricetags on everyone else.