Mariners Trade Deadline: Is doing nothing a viable choice?

Jul 25, 2023, 11:59 AM

Seattle Mariners Paul Sewald Teoscar Hernández...

Paul Sewald celebrates with Teoscar Hernández after a Seattle Mariners' walk-off win. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline is just a week away, and it has yet to become clear what the Seattle Mariners will do.

Mariners’ Paul Sewald details how he handles potential of being traded

Entering Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Seattle is an even 50-50. That puts the Mariners 5 1/5 games back in the American League wild card race, so it’s possible they can still make a push for a playoff spot and therefore buy before the deadline. There’s also the distinct possibility that the M’s instead assume more of a seller role to get themselves in a better spot for the 2024 season.

The Mariners have another option, though. They could simply do nothing.

This is the choice Justin Barnes of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk chose in a poll by Mike Salk on Monday night, and Salk explained on Tuesday’s show why that option would make sense even if it wouldn’t be his preference.

“You know how much I generally hate this. I think you should be active at deadlines,” Salk said to his co-host, Brock Huard. “This is one of your opportunities to change your roster… but the argument in favor of doing nothing would be this: you’re not going to get so much back for either Teo (Teoscar Hernández) or (Paul) Sewald that you absolutely have to trade them because it’s a chance to completely reshape your roster. And you’re certainly not worthy of going out and buying rentals – that’s a non-starter.”

Perhaps most important is what the last 60 games of Seattle’s schedule look like.

“You also have this incredibly generous schedule over the course of the next month or so, which could put you in position to actually be in it for a wild card spot – even though that sounds ludicrous this morning coming off their second straight brutal loss,” Salk said. “And if you do trade Teo, you don’t have another right fielder. And if you do trade Sewald, you’re starting to run a little thin in your bullpen for this year. And as bad as the Chicagos and Royals and some of the other teams you play in that month are, you might have a little problem with them if you don’t have some of the guns that you need right now.

“Maybe you just do nothing and continue to let this thing play its way out. You’re .500, it’s not where you want to be, but maybe you catch some fire at some point and not selling gives these guys enough confidence to kind of hit it big at the end of the year.”

Brock Huard’s counter

As much as Salk understands the argument for standing pat, Huard doesn’t think it makes the most sense for the Mariners – and believes it would be a tough sell to fans.

“Do you think about your fan base and the message that sends to your fan base?” Huard asked.

Replied Salk: “You can’t. Not if you’re (Mariners president of baseball operations) Jerry Dipoto. You can’t afford to do that.”

Doing nothing at the deadline could go one of two ways in the Mariners’ clubhouse, however.

“While I understand that if you manage like a fan, you transact like a fan, you’re going to become a fan, what about what no move would say to clubhouse?” Huard said. “Do you think that that would be a positive? That it could finally be a kick in the butt? I mean, you could probably argue both of these.”

When it comes down to it, the fact that Seattle has struggled to develop offensive players themselves and attract hitters in free agency is why Huard can’t get on board with not making a deal before the deadline.

“If you can’t do it on the free agent side, if the record has not been tremendous on the development of young guys, then this is the other cog you have in the wheel of transaction,” Huard said. “And if you don’t do anything in this phase, then what? Then what happens to first base and second base and right field (this) offseason?”

Salk understands that mentality just as much as the idea of standing pat.

“Brock, I think that you make good points,” he responded. “… Going out and trying to improve this group, this is one of your chances to do it. And if you decide to punt on that, I think that’s that’s a hard one.”

Mike Salk’s preferred path for Seattle Mariners

So where does Salk actually sit himself in this discussion? Here’s how he replied to Huard’s overall point.

“Ultimately, I think, that’s what keeps me from going down the ‘do nothing’ route. I think that first and third (base), second, right (field) – I mean, yeah, you’re talking about four positions that you’ve got major question marks about moving forward, and if you’ve got a chance to solidify any of those here at the deadline, you probably have to take it.”

Salk still believes, though, that there’s a chance keeping the team in its current shape may end up being the best choice Seattle is presented by the trade market.

“If those opportunities aren’t available, doing nothing isn’t death. I guess maybe I’m talking myself into this point. If those aren’t available, if there is no future right fielder, future first baseman, future second baseman, etc., who’s available, I don’t want them to make a move just for the sake of making a move. I mean, if it’s not available, doing nothing and hoping to get better in the second half isn’t the end of the world.”

Listen to the full Seattle Mariners trade deadline conversation from Brock and Salk in the middle segment of the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Video: Is Julio Rodriguez in clutch situations a concern?
Morosi: What Jarred Kelenic’s injury situation illustrates
Dipoto: Mariners didn’t build enough to support young core
Drayer: Kelenic receives ‘painful lesson,’ reminder of why he plays
Could Seattle Mariners use deadline to ‘better situate’ team for 2024?

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