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Checking In: What key players traded by Mariners in offseason have done

Former Mariners pitcher James Paxton is coming off two great starts for the Yankees. (AP)

Even with a loss on Sunday to the Los Angeles Angels, the Seattle Mariners remain the only team in big leagues with 16 wins. Not bad for a franchise that traded away four All-Stars, its ace starting pitcher and No. 1 catcher, not to mention let its All-Star designated hitter leave in free agency.

ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan: ‘Mariners are better than I thought’

Speaking of all those big names, we thought it might be fun to check in on what each of them has been up to early on in the 2019 MLB season. So let’s take a look at what the key departures from Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto’s busy offseason have been up to.

Robinson Canó, New York Mets

It’s been a rough go in Canó’s return to the Big Apple.

Through 20 games he has scuffled to the tune of a .235 batting average, .286 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage. And while he hit his third homer of the season on Sunday, he also was hit on the hand by a pitch that knocked him from the game in St. Louis. To make matters worse, it was ruled that he swung at the pitch, so the Mets didn’t even get a base runner out of the ordeal. Luckily for Canó and the Mets, X-rays were negative on his injured hand.

While Canó saw time at first, second and third base for the Mariners last season following his return from suspension, he has exclusively played second base in 2019 for New York. He also has been the Mets’ regular No. 3 hitter in the order.

Edwin Díaz, New York Mets

The other big name the Mariners sent to the Mets is off to a much better start with his new team, but that hasn’t kept Edwin Díaz from finding his way into the back-page controversy that New York’s star players are prone to.

Díaz has seven saves, 14 strikeouts and just one earned run allowed in nine appearances (7 2/3 innings), maintaining a 1.17 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, so it isn’t his performance that is causing the New York press and Mets fans to throw up their arms. It’s actually the team’s policy to keep him in a role where he is strictly expected to get three outs in the ninth inning – no more, no less.

“It’s just something we don’t feel like we need to do at this point,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said to the press earlier this week after he was questioned why Díaz wasn’t used in a tense two-out spot when New York led 6-5 in the eighth inning of a game in which it eventually beat Philadelphia 7-6 in extra innings. “When we get to the playoffs, he’ll be available for more than three outs. But we have faith in our other guys and they’ve got to get in there and get the job done. And if they don’t, we might lose a game. But hey, that’s the reality of the situation.”

While the decision to limit Díaz to three outs isn’t all that popular, it’s probably not the worst idea in the world considering how much mileage the Mariners had to put on the 25 year old’s right arm as he saved 57 games in 2018.

James Paxton, New York Yankees

In the American League, there’s another former Mariners pitcher grabbing attention in New York.

“Big Maple” James Paxton (sans beard of course because the Yankees are the enemy of fun) is living up to expectation even while pitching half of the time in the ridiculously hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Paxton is 2-2 with a 3.10 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 43 strikeouts and eight walks over five starts (29 innings).

Paxton’s first three starts weren’t anything to write home about, but the last two absolutely were. He went eight scoreless frames with 12 punchouts in a win over the Red Sox last Tuesday, and on Sunday he followed up with another dozen K’s in six scoreless against Kansas City.

That resulted in a pair of milestones pretty incredible considering the Yankees’ storied history – Paxton joins David Cone as the only Yankees pitchers in history to strike out 12 in back-to-back starts, and Paxton alone is the only NY pitcher to do so while also keeping opponents scoreless in each game.

Still looks wrong without a beard, though.

Jean Segura, Philadelphia Phillies

Segura’s arrival in Philadelphia was overshadowed when the Phillies won the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but the 29-year-old shortstop was enjoying a nice start to the season.

I say ‘was’ because he recently landed on the 10-day injured list with a hamstring strain.

Before that injury suffered earlier this week, Segura had settled into the Phillies’ No. 2 spot in the order, hitting .328 with a .384 on-base percentage, one homer, five doubles, a triple, 10 RBIs, 13 runs scored, a stolen base and .861 OPS.

Segura’s injury isn’t serious and he is expected to return from the IL before the end of the month.

Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays

The good news for Zunino is that he is currently on the paternity list as he and his wife Alyssa just welcomed their first child.

The bad news is that Zunino could really use the break.

Zunino is hitting just .196 with no home runs in 14 games playing for his hometown Rays. He will return with a six-game hitting streak, however, although if you look a little closer you will see his average was a dismal .069 before the streak started.

Alex Colomé, Chicago White Sox

Chalk this trade up to a win-win for both the Mariners and White Sox. Well, kinda, because the M’s really could use a veteran bullpen arm with experience in high-leverage situations right now.

While Omar Narváez has been crushing the ball as the Mariners’ starting catcher, Colomé has slotted in as Chicago’s closer, making four saves to date. He has a 3.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, eight strikeouts and two walks over nine appearances (nine innings).

Bonus: Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz continues to be Nelson Cruz, even if he’s doing so in a different uniform after the Mariners let him leave as a free agent.

In 15 games with the Twins, the 38-year-old slugger is hitting .306 with three homers, 12 RBIs, a .443 on-base percentage and 1.014 OPS. He also went 4 for 5 with two of the Twins’ eight homers in a 16-7 win over Baltimore on Saturday night. The eight homers matched a Minnesota team record for most in a single game, and the Twins actually had 11 on the day in a doubleheader sweep.

Ben Gamel, Milwaukee Brewers

Christian Yelich is as outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, used to play in Florida and is hands-down the best player in baseball right now.

His teammate, Ben Gamel, is also a Brewers outfielder, hails from Florida and has the best pregame routine in baseball right now.

Which one is more valuable to the MLB? I’d say it’s a toss-up.

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