Which top prospects should the Mariners be willing to trade?
The additions the Mariners will make this offseason aren’t expected to be limited to free agency, as it’s very likely Seattle general manager/president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto will also turn to the trade market to build his 2022 roster.
That means the Mariners are probably going to have to part with some of their promising prospects in exchange for one or several marquee players already established in the big leagues. But that leaves a big question to be answered: Which Mariners prospects should they be willing to deal?
That was a topic of conversation when Prospect Insider’s Jason Churchill, who hosts the Baseball Things podcast, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Mike Salk Show on Wednesday morning. The two discussed what it would take for the Mariners to pry three-time All-Star third baseman José Ramírez away from the Cleveland Guardians, and considering Ramírez is about as valuable as any player potentially on the trading block, it allowed them to essentially talk about the ceiling Seattle could set in terms of which prospects it would consider dealing.
“Obviously you want to cross Julio Rodríguez off that list,” Churchill said, pointing to Seattle’s top prospect and the No. 2 overall prospect in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline. “… (If you) look at what Cleveland has done in the past when making significant deals, they’ve often gone after pitching, and this doesn’t mean guys that are down your prospect list.
“This means guys that are in your top five or your top eight. (For the Mariners) this means (No. 10 M’s prospect) Matt Brash, this means (No. 3 M’s prospect) George Kirby, most likely. They’re absolutely going to ask and probably even try to demand Logan Gilbert, and if you’re Seattle, you have to be out. If we’re talking about Kirby and Gilbert, it kind of defeats the purpose (of what the Mariners are trying to accomplish) to some level.”
Later in the day on 710 ESPN Seattle, the team from Jake and Stacy reacted to what Churchill said and shared which prospects they think the Mariners need to decide are untouchable.
Stacy Rost agrees with Churchill in that the Mariners need to be careful about dealing too much from their farm system.
“I agree with that last part. I think there’s more than just Rodríguez that I wouldn’t trade,” Rost said. “… I’m saying just don’t trade too many.”
Producer Curtis Rogers, who is a regular host of the Mariners Radio Network pregame and postgame shows, said there is a lesson to be learned from Seattle’s “Big Three” pitching prospects from early last decade – James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen, who have just one combined All-Star Game appearance.
“If it came down to trading Julio, I would say no. I would not say no to a trade involving (No. 4 M’s prospect) Emerson Hancock,” Rogers said. “George Kirby, to a lesser extent, I would say no. I would be a little more open to dealing him than I would Logan Gilbert just because we kind of know what Logan Gilbert could be. I mean, we saw what his his ceiling was in that Yankees start earlier this season. But Hancock, I would be more than OK with dealing.
“I think you have a ton of organizational depth at starting pitcher; you’re going to have to tap into it at some point. You can’t fall in love with all these guys because not every single one of them is going to pan out. Just as we saw the last time the Mariners had an incredible wave of young pitching talent with Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Danny Hultzen.”
Jake Heaps is probably the most eager of the three voices from the show to see the Mariners use their prospect capital in a blockbuster deal this offseason.
“You can’t sit there with these cards and keep them close to your vest,” Heaps said. “The other (scenario) that you probably would have to look at, and this is where I would love to see what the reaction would be, is I don’t think it would come down to two pitchers. I don’t think it would come down to ‘George Kirby and Emerson Hancock, here’s the deal, take it or leave it.’ It probably would look something more like Emerson Hancock and (No. 2 M’s prospect and shortstop) Noelvi Marte.
“If it came down to that, I would have to say yeah, I probably would do the deal because of José Ramírez, where he’s at age-wise and the impact that he can have for your team in his prime years. … You’re going to get a proven commodity, so you have to give up potential talent. … If you want to go and make a splash with a trade like that, guess what – you’re going to have to give away some of those pieces and be comfortable living with it.”
Listen to the full conversation from Jake and Stacy in the podcast at this link or in the player below.