SHANNON DRAYER

Drayer: What role could depth of Mariners’ farm system play at MLB trade deadline?

Jul 29, 2021, 10:18 AM | Updated: 1:17 pm
Mariners Jerry Dipoto...
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has been active ahead of Friday's trade deadline. (Getty)
(Getty)

An all-out frenzy is expected as the 1 p.m. Friday MLB trade deadline approaches, and the Mariners are expected to be participants.

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General manager Jerry Dipoto has said to expect a “succession of moves that I think will result in the present team looking deeper and the future team looking deeper.” Mariners manager Scott Servais has indicated over the past few days that he expects to see movement with the big league roster.

While there are no guarantees that deals can get pushed across the finish line, at this point it would be a surprise if we didn’t see at least one more deal before the deadline. Early Thursday morning came news of an intriguing possibility.

First reaction to the tweet from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi is a shudder. But after reading the thought of trading one of the Mariners’ top pitching prospects for a not-quite rental in 27-year-old Twins starter José Berríos, who is under club control only through the 2022 season, the next thought after a deep breath is “good.” It doesn’t appear they are just waiting for George Kirby, who has pitched 38.2 innings this season, and Emerson Hancock (27 innings) to be their pitching answers moving forward. For those who have been thinking these players would arrive, or even be of impact, in ’22, please take a look at those numbers again. Their futures are bright, but a bridge to these young players is needed.

Could we see Dipoto use one of those players to build the bridge to the other? Would he trade Kirby or Hancock? When it comes to a rental player, he has been clear.

“What I don’t think makes a great deal of sense is forfeiting any real significant part of our future for short-term, rental-type gains,” he said to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on last week’s Jerry Dipoto Show.

Clearly, Dipoto wouldn’t part with a top prospect for a player with just two months remaining on his contract. What about a year and two months? With that talent level and remaining club control, it doesn’t feel much different, which is why outside of a true blockbuster deal, I would be surprised to see any of the Mariners’ top five or six prospects moved. After that, however, it could get interesting.

The Mariners have depth in their farm system, and in the next 24 hours we could see how attractive that depth is to others. The first ask will always be high: Kirby. Hancock. Julio Rodríguez. Noelvi Marte. Dipoto will want to move prospective trade partners off those players, and when it gets down to the wire, perhaps there are other names that could get the job done. Juan Then, Taylor Trammell and Andrés Muñoz are top 10 prospects that are hardly untouchable. Any player not named Hancock from the 2020 draft could be available, with the recently promoted Zach DeLoach’s name in particular jumping off the page.

If it’s pitching a team is looking for, could a team be talked down from a Kirby or Hancock to multiple arms out of the list of Juan Then, Brandon Williamson, Levi Stoudt, Connor Phillips and Adam Macko? While it may be tough for those who follow the prospects to part with some of these names, they are not core pieces. The Mariners have built up the system to a point where they have ‘1b’ and ‘2a’ type tiers of prospects that could be of interest to clubs in bigger packages.

I have little doubt the Mariners find themselves in the strange position of having too good prospects. It very well could be “It’s Julio or Kirby or no deal” with some clubs. There are no hiding of the cards in the game of baseball trades, but there are teams that see the value in volume of prospects in trade, and on that front the Mariners can certainly compete.

It’s worth remembering that trade is Dipoto’s preferred route to player acquisition and roster building. Deadline deals differ from offseason deals as there is a clock with time running out, but opportunities exist. Friday should be very interesting.

Follow Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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