ESPN’s Passan: It’s ‘confusing’ why the Mariners aren’t better

Jun 21, 2023, 1:23 PM | Updated: 1:25 pm

Seattle Mariners trade deadline...

Eugenio Suarez of the Seattle Mariners reacts after striking out on June 14, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners have been one of the bigger disappointments in MLB this season.

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After a 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday, the M’s are back under .500 in a year where they build off of their 2022 campaign where they broke a 21-year postseason drought.

The Yankees are struggling a bit right now, too, especially since outfielder Aaron Judge went on the injured list.

“(The Yankees) are more talented than their record indicates, but it just feels like they’re always treading water,” ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Tuesday. “And is that not an apt description for the M’s this year? Just treading water?”

The Mariners have hovered right around .500 all season long. They’ve won four games in a row just three times and their high mark has been three games over .500. This comes after back-to-back 90-win seasons and the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2001.

“They’re just like a boat that’s in neutral and you’re just waiting for them to kick it into gear. But it’s like they need to go to the gas station firs, so there’s no fuel there. There’s no internal combustion going on to propel them forward,” Passan said of the Mariners. “And I don’t get it. This team is the worst kind of team for fans to watch because it’s confusing as to why they’re not better than they actually are.”

Wins haven’t come easy for the Mariners, such as Sunday’s victory over the Chicago White Sox where Seattle struck out 18 times. Sox starter Lance Lynn had 16 strikeouts in seven innings.

“I mean Lance Lynn, he punched (out) 16 in seven innings. You don’t see that very often,” Passan said. “And you especially don’t see it against a guy who just throws fastballs … There’s no excuse if you look at Lance Lynn’s line the rest of the season so far to be getting punched out 16 times by him.”

The Seattle Mariners and the trade deadline

Last year, the Mariners were an aggressive buyer at the trade deadline, adding ace pitcher Luis Castillo in a blockbuster trade.

This year, though, it’s unclear if the M’s will buy, sell, or do a bit of both.

Passan said that the current landscape of the trade market is hard to pinpoint.

“It’s slow moving at this point, and I think it’s slow moving as much because of the standings as anything,” he said.

In the American League wild card race, the M’s are four games out of the third and final spot and have three teams ahead of them. The AL Central has been lackluster, so a few teams under .500 are still in that race.

Passan said there are only a handful of teams that are clear sellers across MLB.

“The reason the market hasn’t started is because so few teams right now look like they’re going to be selling, and the ones that are honestly don’t have a ton of inventory,” he said.

MLB Network insider Jon Morosi told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob last week that the M’s should potentially look at trading outfielder Teoscar Hernández, who has hit better of late and is a pending free agent.

Related: The Seattle Mariners’ best deadline option may be ‘buy-and-sell’ trade

“One thing I think we forget sometimes at the trade deadline is how little teams are getting in return for players who are going to be free agents, particularly on the offensive side, because you need a perfect fit,” Passan said when asked about Hernández. “… It’s one of those things where I think if you’re the Mariners and so few others are selling, yeah, then at that point you almost just have to do it to take advantage of the market and try and pick around at the edges and improve your team elsewhere. But this team offensively without Teoscar Hernández right now, the offense is the problem already. They have been an offensively challenged team for 70 games.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Passan at this link or in the podcast near the top of this post.

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Brock and Salk podcast

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ESPN’s Passan: It’s ‘confusing’ why the Mariners aren’t better