BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Seattle Mariners Trade: Closer look at 3 new players from D-backs

Aug 1, 2023, 11:22 AM | Updated: 3:51 pm

The 2023 MLB trade deadline is here, and the Seattle Mariners have already done some notable work before trades are off the table until this offseason.

The M’s made two deals on Monday – one a major one and one minor.

What They Said: Sewald, Servais after Seattle Mariners trade

The small deal? Veteran outfielder AJ Pollock and Triple-A utility man Mark Mathias to San Francisco for either cash or a player to be named later.

The big one? That would be star reliever Paul Sewald being shipped to Arizona for three hitters – outfielder/first baseman Dominic Canzone, utility player Josh Rojas and prospect infielder Ryan Bliss.

So who are these three the Seattle Mariners acquired on Monday? Let’s take a closer look.

The newest Seattle Mariners

• OF/1B Dominic Canzone

Canzone is arguably the headliner of this deal as he’s young (25), controllable (made his MLB debut this year) and should slot in as an everyday player very soon for the Mariners. In fact, he was hitting fifth in five of his eight starts with Arizona this year.

Canzone, who is 5 foot 11 and 190 pounds, is a corner outfielder and first baseman who hits left-handed and throws right-handed. He now ranks as the Mariners’ 13th-best prospect on MLB Pipeline, which rates him as a 55 grade (above-average) for power, 50 (average) for hitting, 45 for arm, and in the 40s for speed and fielding.

Pipeline may give the Ohio State product and 2019 eighth-round MLB Draft pick an average grade for his hit tool, but Canzone has raked at every level of the minor leagues. He made it to the big leagues this year, playing in his first 15 MLB games where he slashed .237/.293/.368 (.661 OPS) with one home run and eight RBI in 41 plate appearances. He picked up two of those RBIs against the Mariners on Saturday. In that three-game set against his new team, Canzone went 4 for 11 (.364) with a double and those two RBIs.

In 302 career minor league games, Canzone owns a .310/.377/.556 (.933 OPS) line with 60 home runs, 250 RBIs, 149 extra-base hits and 223 strikeouts to 117 walks.

In 71 games in Triple-A this year, Canzone slashed .354/.431/.634 (1.065 OPS) with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, which includes Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate Tacoma, so the Mariners have seen him quite a bit as an organization.

With right fielder Teoscar Hernández’s future appearing to be elsewhere, a down year for first baseman Ty France, and it being unclear whether one or both of Jarred Kelenic or Cade Marlowe are long-term starters in the corner outfield, Canzone gives the Mariners another potential long-term fit in their lineup. Canzone may not have had that same opportunity in Arizona given the D-backs’ surplus of talented young outfielders and a fairly established slugger at first base in Christian Walker.

In some ways, Canzone is a bit similar to France when the Mariners acquired him from San Diego in 2020. France was also an older prospect at 25 years old who didn’t have a clear path to regular MLB playing time in San Diego but had hit at every level of the minor leagues to that point.

We’ll almost certainly see Canzone added to the Mariners’ 26-man roster on Tuesday, likely taking the place of fellow lefty-hitting outfielder Taylor Trammell. With Kelenic out for the foreseeable future with a broken foot, Canzone should have no problem getting playing time in the outfield or at DH.

• UT Josh Rojas

The Mariners have said they value defensive flexibility, and if there’s one thing Rojas brings to the table, it’s that.

Rojas, 29, has seen most of his time this year at third base, but he’s also played second base, shortstop, left field and right field at the MLB level since debuting in 2019.

Rojas was a fairly solid bat for the Diamondbacks the last two seasons, posting OPS marks of .752 in 2021 and .739 last year (.732 is the current MLB average OPS). But in 59 games this year, Rojas is hitting just .228 with a .589 OPS and has no home runs and only 13 extra-base hits.

Rojas hits from the left side of the plate, so it’s likely that the former 26th-round pick winds up taking playing time that has gone to veteran second baseman Kolten Wong, another left-handed hitter who has struggled mightily for the Mariners this season.

It’s doubtful that Rojas is anything more than a depth-type piece to fill in defensively, give starters the day off or play semi-regularly due to injury. Per Fangraphs, Rojas has two more minor-league options remaining, and per Spotrac, he’s under club control through 2026, with this season being his first year of arbitration.

IF Ryan Bliss

Canzone is going to get a lot of the attention in this deal considering we’ll likely see quite a bit of him at the MLB level this year, but the 23-year-old Bliss is a very intriguing prospect for the Mariners to acquire.

He’s now Seattle’s No. 14 prospect on MLB Pipeline, which gives Bliss a 50 grade for his bat, 40 for power, 55 for his fielding and speed and 45 for his arm. He’s played quite a bit of shortstop as a minor leaguer, but he’s likely a second baseman long-term, in part because of his size.

Bliss, a second-round draft pick by Arizona in 2021 out of Auburn, is hardly the most physically imposing at 5-6 and 165 pounds, but he turned himself into quite an offensive force this year after a very poor 2022 season in High-A.

Bliss, who hits right-handed, hit .358 with an OPS over 1.000 in 68 games in Double-A this year, slugging 12 home runs and 41 extra-base hits while showing off his speed with 30 stolen bases.

That performance not only earned Bliss a trip to the Futures Game at T-Mobile Park a few weeks ago, but a promotion to Triple-A. The results haven’t been there in a brief Triple-A stint so far as Bliss hit under .200 with a .631 OPS in 13 games with the Reno Aces before being traded to the Mariners.

It’s no secret that second base has effectively been a black hole for the Mariners since trading Robinson Canó ahead of the 2019 season. None of Shed Long Jr., Adam Frazier, Abraham Toro, Dylan Moore, José Caballero or Wong have worked out as long-term fixtures at that spot, so Bliss should have a chance to take the job and potentially run with it, likely beginning next year.

The Mariners had a trade a few years ago with Arizona that saw them acquire Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger. The early thought was it was the “Jean Segura Trade” since he was an All-Star. But it wound up more as the “Mitch Haniger Trade” for Seattle. That may be the case with this one as most of the attention is on Canzone, but Bliss very well may be the key chip in this trade when all is said and done.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Drayer: What’s at stake in this Seattle Mariners trade deadline
Seattle Mariners trade with Toronto for RHP Trent Thornton
Raleigh homers twice as Seattle Mariners stay hot, topple Red Sox 6-2

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