2 Takes: If you are Mariners GM, do you trade top prospects for Blake Snell?
It just wouldn’t be an even-year Thanksgiving weekend without the Mariners and general manager Jerry Dipoto at least finding their way into the rumor mill.
Unlike in 2016 when Dipoto lit the hot stove on fire with a Thanksgiving eve blockbuster with the Diamondbacks to acquire Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura, or in 2018 when he sandwiched the holiday with trades that sent away James Paxton and Alex Colomé, this year the M’s ended up in reports through no fault of their own.
Early in the week, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the Tampa Bay Rays are “open to” trading Blake Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner. Naturally, speculation turned to the Mariners as Dipoto is a common trade partner of Rays GM Erik Neander, Snell’s contract and age could conceivably fit into Seattle’s rebuild effort, and the soon-to-be 28-year-old left-hander grew up just minutes from the T-Mobile Park in Shoreline.
While there’s no evidence that the Mariners have engaged the Rays in trade talks about Snell, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where they would. There’s a big question about all of this, though: Should the Mariners speed up their rebuild and pull off a trade for Snell by parting ways with one of their top prospects?
It’s been a hot topic on 710 ESPN Seattle’s airwaves this week, so we’ve collected the takes of Mike Salk and Danny O’Neil to look at a couple different ways of looking at whether this kind of trade would make sense for the Mariners.
Mike Salk – Brock and Salk Podcast
They’re not quite ready to be the big-time buyers that we expect them to be next year, but they’re getting close. You should be competing in 2022 to make a deep playoff run and we’ll see what happens. I think that’s the expectation, so when a name like Blake Snell pops up in the rumor mill and the Mariners get linked to it, you can’t help but have the conversation: What are you willing to give up for Blake Snell?
I think the facts start with they don’t need him the way some of the other teams bidding for him will. The Mariners really can’t take full advantage of all three of the years he has left on his contract because this year they’re only going to be interesting, and it’s really the next year after that they start to really compete, so you’re not getting enough out of him. They’re not going to trade one of their two big names for him. Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez would not be on the table for Snell. They love those guys. To them, those two are basically untradeable.
The Mariners have a sign that reads “Discipline is the shortcut.” To me it means they’ve got a set plan and they need to stick to it, that that’s the shortest path to getting to where they want to go. You can’t cheat your plan. If you could get Snell without having to give up anything that you don’t really care about, fine. What, are you going to say no? Of course not. But discipline is the shortcut. You’ve got a set plan. Stick to it.
You’ve got mid-level prospects and money set aside to finish this job in another year or so without overreacting right now to Blake Snell, because the next Blake Snell will be out there when you’re ready to get him just like Charlie Morton was ready for the Braves this year. And they just had to pay for him.
Danny O’Neil – Danny and Gallant
When we asked listeners if you would consider making a move now for Blake Snell, it was pretty overwhelmingly, “No, absolutely not. I’m not trading one of the blue chip prospects for him.” I think that’s right, but I think it more has to do with the timing of Seattle’s rebuild than it has to do with sacrificing one of those guys, because Blake Snell is a top-of-the-rotation arm. To get him for somebody that’s just potential right now should not be overlooked because he’s an awfully good pitcher and it’s hard to get those kind of arms.
I think the baseline for looking at what the Rays are seeking is probably what they got from Pittsburgh for Chris Archer when they traded him two years ago, and that included Tyler Glasnow, who is one of their absolute franchise cornerstones right now, and Austin Meadows, who was an All-Star. The Rays are not going to trade Snell for a discount. Two years from now or a year and a half from now, this trade opportunity would feel different for the Mariners. I think it’s a little early. We’re waiting for them to become competitive and believe that will be this next year, and this is the kind of move you make to get over the hump – to go from being a good to a great team.
People fall in love with potential and people are in love with the Mariners’ prospects’ potential, and that’s a good thing because they’re really talented players. But there’s all the time that guys who are blue chips, “this guy is going to change a franchise,” turn out to be rank and file major leaguers, or not even all that good or extraordinary. It’s OK to give up potential for proven guys. That is a great path to winning and right now the Mariners have a lot of ammunition with the caliber of prospects they’ve accumulated.