Where Mariners could look if they decide to trade for a bat

Apr 19, 2023, 12:39 PM

Seattle Mariners Cardinals Tyler O'Neill...

Tyler O'Neill of the St. Louis Cardinals singles against Arizona on April 17, 2023. (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are looking to get back to .500 after a brief period with an even record going into this week, and one constant issue early on this season has to deal with their lineup.

Mariners’ woes in extras continue with 6-5 loss to Brewers

Ahead of Wednesday’s series finale against the Brewers, the Mariners’ designated hitter position has contributed just seven hits in 58 at-bats. Even worse, Seattle DHs rank last in all of MLB in the three stats that make up the slash line – batting average (.121), on-base percentage (.215) and slugging (.190) – as well as OPS (.405).

It may be a small sample size, but it stands to reason that the M’s look at least a bat short right now.

How can Seattle remedy the issue?

“Listen, there’s nothing I can say at this point. That is just embarrassing,” ESPN’s Jeff Passan told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Tuesday during his weekly conversation on the show. “And my comment of 10 days ago now that they’re gonna find someone? Still haven’t found anyone. It’s not great.”

Co-host Mike Salk brought up the idea of the Mariners making a trade, something that isn’t seen much in the first month of the 162-game MLB season.

“Go out and make a trade now? I don’t know, man. It feels too panicky for me. But if they did it, I would understand,” Passan said. “I just don’t know where they would start. I mean, are you going to the bottom of the standings and just trying to find anyone who’s going to sell right now? … I understand that the Mariners jumped the market last year on (starting pitcher) Luis Castillo, but didn’t they jump the market in mid-July?”

As Passan continued, though, he landed on a possible trade partner for the Mariners down the line.

“I mean, the real answer here is you go and get one of the Cardinals’ outfielders.”

Could Mariners and Cardinals make a deal?

Once Salk heard Passan bring up St. Louis, he pointed back to something that came up during the offseason and could be more of a possibility now due to recent events.

“That was a conversation we had quite a bit in the offseason, whether Tyler O’Neill would be a good fit to come back here to Seattle,” Salk said, referring to the former Mariners prospect who has blossomed into a two-time Gold Glove winner with the Cards. “There have been some issues there with him and management.”

O’Neill, 27, was a third-round pick by Seattle in 2013 who grew up a Mariners fan in British Columbia, but he was traded to St. Louis for Marco Gonzales in 2017. While he’s had success with the Cardinals, he was criticized by manager Oli Marmol after he was thrown out at the plate in an April 4 game.

“That’s not our style of play as far as the effort, rounding the bag there,” Marmol said after a 4-1 loss to Atlanta. “It’s unacceptable.”

O’Neill responded in a way that seemed to indicate unhappiness with both the criticism and the way it was delivered.

“I came up through the minor leagues and into the big leagues playing hard, playing scrappy and that’s who I am. That’s my character and I don’t ever want anyone to take that away from me,” O’Neill said the next day. “These conversations definitely could have been had in-house and not gotten out loose like they have. It should have been handled a little differently in my opinion, but who’s to say?”

O’Neill had a big 2021 season, slashing .286/.352/.560 with 34 home runs and 80 RBIs for a .912 OPS and 6.1 WAR. He struggled last year, however – .228/.308/.392 slash, .900 OPS, 14 homers in 96 games – but is off to a decent start in 2023 with a .278/.328/.426 slash with two homers in 17 games.

Should the Mariners have interest in O’Neill, one thing in particular – besides the possible friction between O’Neill and his manager – would help them.

“They have five very capable, everyday big league outfielders,” Passan said of the Cardinals. “… I mean, (a trade) certainly is a possibility now that Lars Nootbaar is back (from injury). Jordan Walker is not going anywhere, so he’s the guy who’s sticking around. But in addition to Jordan Walker, they’ve got Tyler O’Neill, Alec Burleson, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson and Juan Yepez.”

The Mariners should get a chance to look at O’Neill and how he may play at T-Mobile Park as the Cardinals come to Seattle on Friday to start a three-game weekend series.

Passan joins Brock and Salk live at 8:30 a.m. every Tuesday to discuss the Mariners and other happenings in the world of baseball. Listen to this week’s full conversation in the podcast below.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Passan: With big week, Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic displays his star potential
Salk: Mariners don’t look cheap when Luis Castillo dominates
Seattle Mariners Check-In: Status report on offseason departures
Goldsmith: Two veteran bats critical to Seattle Mariners’ success
Seattle Mariners’ Dipoto: Improved secondaries create ‘new ceiling’ for Gilbert

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Where Mariners could look if they decide to trade for a bat