KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Before the July 31 trade deadline, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said he was not opposed to trading for a rental player if the price was right. It appears he found his deal.
Prior to Seattle’s doubleheader against the Royals on Sunday, the Mariners announced they had acquired 2017 All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Oakland A’s in exchange for outfielder Boog Powell.
“He fits our roster well,” Dipoto said via conference call Sunday morning. “We like the complement he brings to our lineup, the left-handed bat, particularly how he pairs with (Danny) Valencia. Frankly the balance he brings our lineup, especially looking ahead we have got quite a stretch of right-handed starters we are seeing the next three weeks.”
Alonso comes to Seattle having hit .266 with a career-high 22 home runs and 49 RBIs this season. While clearly acquired to play first base, he also could bring a measure of peace of mind at the DH spot as Nelson Cruz has battled injury and hurt all season long.
“We feel we are acquiring a bat that makes a difference in the middle of our lineup,” Dipoto said.
Why was the deal made Sunday and not last week? Dipoto indicated that talks with the A’s about Alonso before the trade deadline were to the point where he thought a deal could get done. For whatever reason it didn’t happen, though, perhaps because Oakland’s trade sending Sonny Gray to the Yankees went down to the wire. In the end the delay may have played in the Mariners’ favor. After the non-waiver deadline, the price for Alonso undoubtedly went down, and the Mariners were able to place a claim on Alonso once he was put on waivers, before the Yankees, Royals, Red Sox or any club with a better record than theirs.
While this was a deal for the now as Alonso is a free agent at the end of the season, it could turn into a future deal in the end.
“I believe Yonder serves as the first true rental that we have acquired since I have been with the Mariners,” Dipoto said. “In this particular case, it’s a guy that we are interested in. He’s a guy that fits us not just now but potentially moving forward. What better way to get to know a player than have him join you in the middle of what we hope is a strong pennant push.”
As for right-handed reliever Ryan Garton and catcher Mike Marjama, who Seattle acquired in a separate trade Sunday from Tampa Bay, both have been assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.
“Garton has a little Major League experience. He’s 92-94 (mph with his fastball) with an above-to-well-above-average cutter,” said Dipoto, adding that would join the bullpen depth pool.