Why Seattle Mariners trade fit could be playoff-contending Orioles

Jul 10, 2023, 9:43 AM | Updated: 10:03 am

Seattle Mariners Orioles...

The Seattle Mariners' José Caballero forces out Baltimore's Gunnar Henderson on June 23. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners will go into the second half of the 2023 MLB season with a shot at the postseason, but a return to the playoffs is far from a sure thing at this point.

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The 45-44 Mariners have tough competition to contend with both in the American League West and for one of the AL’s three wild card spots, and that makes the upcoming Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline a pretty compelling one in Seattle.

Do the Mariners go for broke and try to maximize their chances this season? Should they instead take a small step back now in order to bolster their 2024 team? A little of both?

MLB Network insider Jon Morosi has spoken at length about all the options during his weekly conversations with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, and when he joined the show last week, he suggested a new team that could be an ideal trade partner for the M’s.

Morosi said if the Mariners ask themselves whether a rental hitter makes sense for them and the answer is no, this is what the next step should be.

“Then I look at this deadline as the first chance to improve my 2024 team,” he said, “and if it gives me a better chance of winning a wild card in ’23, great, but this needs to be the first pass at looking at next year’s roster. And specifically, I would call up two teams, and I would think about the pitching I’ve got internally. With all the (Mariners’) controllable pitching and the emergence of Bryan Woo as part of that, I would call up Baltimore and I would call up St. Louis, because those are two teams that have some young bats and need pitching.”

The St. Louis Cardinals have come up regularly as a team that Seattle could look to deal with due to the Mariners’ strength (young pitching) and weakness (offense) being the inverse of what the Cards feature. St. Louis has scuffled to a disappointing 38-52 record, so they would be more of the “selling” team in this scenario. Baltimore also has bats it could part with while needing pitching help, but the difference is the O’s sit in the AL’s top wild card spot at 54-35 and would appear to be more of the “buyer” if it dealt with Seattle.

“For St. Louis’s case it’s much more about the future because they’re going nowhere right now,” Morosi said, “but Baltimore needs a little bit more reliable pitching and they’ve got so much young talent now at the at the major league level. They just called up Colton Cowser, they’ve already called up (Jordan) Westburg, they’ve got Gunnar Henderson. How good of a prospect could the Mariners peel away if they put Logan Gilbert in play? And the same thing is true on the St. Louis side with Tommy Edman and others.”

The Orioles have a long list of young hitters in addition to the ones Morosi mentioned, including All-Star catcher Adley Rutschman (don’t get too excited, he’s untouchable) and shortstop Jackson Holliday, baseball’s No. 1 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Holliday is just one of a total of eight Orioles hitters on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects list, but Baltimore also has a number of veteran bats in their mid-to-late 20s that could help a team right away including 2023 All-Star Austin Hays, fellow outfielders Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander, first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and speedy infielder Jorge Mateo.

Why not both?

An X-factor in the Mariners’ trade deadline path that Morosi has pointed to a few times is slugger Teoscar Hernández, who is set to be a free agent after the season. The 30-year-old Hernández has 15 home runs and a .741 OPS this season, and if Seattle decides to move on from him this offseason, it would make sense to do so a few months earlier and get something back in return for him.

“I would say there’s a situation in which (Mariners president of baseball operations) Jerry Dipoto and (general manager) Justin Hollander move Teoscar to a team that needs a ‘right now’ bat and is trying to go for it right now – an ‘all-in to win the World Series in ’23’ kind of a team,” Morosi said. “Do that, recoup a prospect, and then maybe at the same time flip a pitcher for a young, controllable bat if you can get one from Baltimore or St. Louis. That to me would be a good, reasonable deadline (for the Mariners).

“This is not an ‘all-in, gotta win the ’23 World Series’ kind of a deadline (for the Mariners). The team is just not that good. But they’re good enough that I think you can you can do both things where you look at the near-term and the long-term.”

Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Morosi at this link or in the podcast near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

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