SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners aren’t scrambling after trading versatile Mike Montgomery

Jul 20, 2016, 10:41 PM | Updated: Jul 21, 2016, 7:59 am
Seattle may already have the answers to replace the versatile Mike Montgomery after Wednesday's tra...
Seattle may already have the answers to replace the versatile Mike Montgomery after Wednesday's trade. (AP)
(AP)

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said before the All-Star break that it was his preference to get to the dance early when it came to the trade deadline. He declined to say whether or not the Mariners would be buyers or sellers, with his preferred term for how he would approach the market being “opportunistic.”

The four-player trade Wednesday that included left-hander Mike Montgomery going to the Cubs and minor-league first baseman Dan Vogelbach coming to Seattle fits that description.

At first glance, for many it signaled that the Mariners’ store was open for business, as they sent an important part of the pitching staff to get a player who has yet to make his MLB debut and does not fill an immediate need in the big leagues. But how much of an immediate need does losing Montgomery create?

In the short-term, Montgomery can immediately be replaced in the rotation by Wade LeBlanc, and there’s still the hope that Taijuan Walker could be able to step into that spot within two weeks. Montgomery also had nice value in the bullpen, but Charlie Furbush’s return from injury appears to be on the near horizon, and David Rollins has given the Mariners some nice work outside of two shaky outings on the last road trip.

Relievers are replaceable, and while Montgomery showed promise as a starter, his name had yet to be written into the rotation in ink. He very well could go on to have a nice career as a starter or reliever, but in the here and now, Dipoto was willing to roll the dice on the future pitching potential and go for something that he liked in Vogelbach.

While limited in the field, Vogelbach has put up huge offensive numbers in the minors while displaying the “Control the Zone” approach on which Dipoto puts a premium.

The Cubs and the Mariners have been linked for some time now in trade rumors, and I have heard that there were a number of different combinations of players the two teams talked about, with the Cubs ultimately wanting a back-of-the-bullpen type arm. Interestingly enough, Vogelbach’s name came up as a player the Yankees could have had interest in if they chose to move reliever Andrew Miller. If that’s true, the Cubs apparently weren’t waiting around, and perhaps this move was even more opportunistic for Dipoto.

I would be shocked if this was the only move we saw from the Mariners before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. In fact, this trade almost begs for another, be it another bullpen arm or a way to make room for Vogelbach on the 25-man roster.

Dipoto is at the dance. It will be very interesting to see what happens the next time the music stops.

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