Mariners Check-In: How Seattle’s trade deadline looks a month later
Sep 3, 2023, 3:54 PM
(Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
It may be easy to forget considering how much has happened in the last month for the first-place Seattle Mariners, but it really wasn’t that long ago that the team made a few moves ahead of the MLB trade deadline.
At the time, the Mariners’ activity before the Aug. 1 deadline left a lot of people scratching their heads. Seattle’s big move was to send Paul Sewald, their closer and one of the best relievers in baseball over the past three seasons, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three hitters – one rookie, one prospect, and one 29-year-old infielder with no homers in 59 games this year.
It didn’t exactly scream of a team getting serious about making a run at a division title, did it?
Of course, we know what’s happened since. The Mariners will go into the first week of September leading the American League West, having ripped off a 23-8 record since dealing Sewald away on July 31. And yes, the players Seattle got in the return from Arizona have played notable roles in that success.
Let’s take a look at what the players involved in the Seattle Mariners’ moves in the days before the trade deadline have done since.
Seattle Mariners check-in
• The move: Seattle Mariners trade Paul Sewald to Arizona Diamondbacks for Dominic Canzone, Josh Rojas and Ryan Bliss
This trade looked plenty familiar to Mariners fans. Much like the Kendall Graveman deal in 2021 that saw Seattle sell high on a veteran reliever for young, controllable offensive help, the Mariners seized on the trade value of the 33-year-old Sewald that likely would never be higher. And like the Graveman trade, this wasn’t exactly popular at the time among the fan base.
Fortunately, the lefty-hitting duo of Canzone and Rojas have been much-needed upgrades at the plate for the Mariners.
Rojas immediately stepped in as half of a platoon at second base, taking over for the disappointing Kolten Wong, who was let go to make room for Rojas on the roster (more on Wong later). Rojas came to Seattle with troubling stats – .228/.292/.296 slash, .588 OPS, no home runs in 59 games – but has flourished offensively with his new team. In 23 games for the M’s, Rojas has a .278/.316/.431 slash for a .747 OPS with three homers.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 26, 2023
The 26-year-old rookie Canzone, meanwhile, had played in just 15 MLB games with Arizona before the deal, and was struggling to find playing in a time in a D-backs outfield flush with young talent. Their loss has been Seattle’s gain, with Canzone ripping four homers and slashing .253/.293/.471 for a .764 OPS in 25 games for the Mariners. He’s provided some much-needed thump from the left side of the plate, including with homers in back-to-back games this weekend in New York, while Jarred Kelenic has been working his way back from a broken foot.
Perhaps most notable with Canzone is the amount of pop he showed on a prodigious solo blast off the windows in right field at T-Mobile Park against the Orioles on Aug. 13 (with two outs in the ninth inning and the M’s down a run, no less).
As clutch as it gets. pic.twitter.com/GE3du6mQ5O
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 13, 2023
Don’t forget about Bliss, either. The 23-year-old second baseman may only be 5 foot 6 and 165 pounds, but he’s been showing with Triple-A Tacoma that he packs a punch. In fact, he hit a home run in each of his first two at-bats on Sunday, giving him five in 29 games with the Rainiers. His averages need some work still (.213 batting, .681 OPS this year in Triple-A), but his power and speed combination (12 steals on 15 attempts with Tacoma) is intriguing.
As for Sewald, things got off to a rocky start in Arizona. He didn’t get a chance to pitch after joining the D-backs for nearly a week, and he blew his first save chance for Arizona, which came in his second appearance. He’s gotten on track for the most part since, posting a scoreless inning of work in 10 of the 12 games his number has been called, registering eight saves in 10 opportunities. Maybe the best part is that he showed he still appreciates the fans in the Pacific Northwest. After locking up a save for Arizona against AL West rival Texas on Aug. 22, Sewald shared this message on social media:
We got you PNW 🏻
— Paul Sewald (@ItsPaulSewald) August 23, 2023
Moving forward without Sewald hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Mariners, though. The bullpen clearly misses his ability to close out games, as Seattle has blown five saves since the trade. That’s tied for 10th in MLB since July 31, though luckily for Seattle, the leader over that period is Texas at 12 blown saves. On the other hand, the Mariners’ other key competition for the division, the Houston Astros, have blown just one save over that time, tied for best in baseball.
• The move: Seattle Mariners designate Kolten Wong for assignment
Wong, 32, landed with the Dodgers organization after the Mariners DFA’d and then released the veteran second baseman. He appeared in five games in the minors, including a three-game stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City where he went 7 for 13 with a homer and two doubles, and received a quick call up to Los Angeles.
So after hitting .165 with two homers and a .468 OPS in 67 games for the Mariners, what did he do upon joining the Dodgers on Friday? Oh, just homered in his first plate appearance. Did you expect anything else?
First Dodger at-bat for Kolten Wong? Homer. pic.twitter.com/vjsD1BkWCE
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 2, 2023
According to the Dodger Insider account on X, Wong said he made some mechanical adjustments in his short time in the minors that appear to be paying off.
• The move: Seattle Mariners trade AJ Pollock and Mark Mathias to San Francisco Giants for a player to be named later.
Pollock, like Wong, was another offseason veteran addition who never found his footing in Seattle, so this move allowed Seattle to get something back for a hitter whose playing time was likely running out. As for Mathias, the veteran infielder was an in-season waiver addition who never made it past Tacoma after joining the organization.
The 35-year-old Pollock was on the injured list at the time of the trade with a hamstring strain, and he landed back on the IL on Aug. 9 after just five games with San Francisco with an oblique strain. He is 0 for 6 in a Giants uniform so far.
Mathias, 29, has played five games with San Francisco, hitting 2 for 10.
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