Morosi: Potential Mariners trade targets, rumors from GM meetings
Nov 9, 2023, 10:46 AM | Updated: 10:46 am
(Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
The MLB offseason officially started this week, and we’re all waiting to see what the Seattle Mariners will do this winter after missing the playoffs in 2023.
Top MLB brass got together this week in Arizona for the annual GM meetings, and we’re starting to hear the initial rumors and buzz from across the league.
Someone who is locked in to all things MLB and even got some one-on-one time this week with Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto is MLB Network insider Jon Morosi, who joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Wednesday to discuss what he’s hearing and thinking about the M’s this offseason.
Let’s take a look at what Morosi had to say.
Yandy Díaz ‘precisely’ what Seattle Mariners need
Morosi said that Dipoto told him the Mariners are looking to get more contact-oriented bats in the lineup in order to cut down on strikeouts, which was a big problem for Seattle in 2023.
During one of his on-air hits this week for MLB Network, Morosi mentioned an intriguing trade candidate for the Mariners: Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yandy Díaz, who led the American League in batting average and hit a home run in the All-Star Game at T-Mobile Park.
The AL strikes first!
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 12, 2023
“I do think that the Rays in general are open for business. And whether it’s Yandy Díaz, whether it’s (outfielder) Manuel Margot … I believe that the Rays will be in the market to move some position players in an effort to get less expensive pitching in,” Morosi said. ” … Yandy Díaz, you saw him out there in Seattle during the All-Star Game – really valuable player. And Jerry Dipoto was very candid yesterday. I was speaking with him and he said, ‘We need to get better contact hitting, we need to be in the zone more often.’
“While he’s not going to tell you exactly chapter and verse of who he’s looking at, Yandy Díaz is precisely the kind of guy the Mariners need.”
YANDY DIAZ CALLS GAME!
A 2-run shot walks it off for the Rays! pic.twitter.com/MI3UUugkw3
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 9, 2023
So what would it take for the Mariners to land Díaz, who is 32 years old and signed through 2025 with a club option for ’26? Morosi said he spoke to an MLB general manager about that.
“I said, ‘Hey, just a quick question here. Who would say no if the Rays said, OK, Jerry Dipoto, we would trade you Yandy Díaz for Logan Gilbert?’ And he said he believes the Mariners would say no quickly to that,” Morosi said. “… So would it be more likely if you looked at Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo? Perhaps. I think those are names that are a bit more available. And I would say obviously (George) Kirby is off limits.”
Morosi thinks it’s more likely Miller or Woo are available, but he thinks Gilbert could net the Mariners a massive return if traded.
“I think Gilbert is the guy that if a team really gets creative and gives the Mariners multiple pieces, they would have to think about him,” he said. “I’m always wary about trading pitching, and yet you look at this team, guys, and they were one more stable bat in their lineup away from making the playoffs. That’s what they were, that’s how close they were. They have to honestly bring in more offense to just get back to where they were when they had Teoscar (Hernández) out there, so they’ve got some work to do.”
Soto and Alonso trade possibilities
Two of MLB’s top hitters are rumored to be trade candidates this offseason: Padres outfielder Juan Soto and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso.
While Díaz has at least two years of club control left on his deal, fellow 2023 All-Stars Soto and Alonso are entering the last year of their contracts.
Like with Díaz, Morosi thinks Gilbert should be off the table for one year of either Soto or Alonso.
“Again, I think you would have to start entertaining ideas there in that Miller and Woo area,” he said.
The Padres, Morosi said, are “really willing to make some moves” this offseason. That includes the 25-year-old Soto, who is one of the game’s top hitters and controls the strike zone as well as anybody.
JUAN SOTO HIT IT OUT THE BRONX 💥😲
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 27, 2023
“There are plenty of reports about (the Padres’) payroll situation. They’re not close at all on signing Soto (long-term), so you have to assume that you’re not going to be able to sign him,” Morosi said. “In light of that, you’ve got to listen. You have to. And the Padres have basically acknowledged that much that if they don’t feel like they’re going to be able to sign Soto long-term, they have to listen on him.”
When discussing the 28-yeard-old Alonso on MLB Network, Morosi brought up the Mariners as a fit for the slugging first baseman.
Morosi thinks Alonso, like Soto, isn’t close to signing a long-term deal with his current team, and he also thinks it’s unlikely to happen under new Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns, who has previously called the shots for the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It sure seems to me that the first big move for David Stearns is probably not going to be signing a mega-extension with Pete Alonso. It’s just not what he’s done. It has not been his track record,” Morosi said. “… David Stearns is a very, very rational, clear-eyed thinker. And when you look at the National League East right now in the Braves and the Phillies, I’m not sure how the Mets would look at that and say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a great chance to finish ahead of both of them.’ So I think Alonso is out there and available.”
PETE ALONSO WALKS IT OFF IN THE 10TH 😲
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 18, 2023
Whether it’s Alonso, Soto or Díaz, Morosi said the Mariners “have the access to any conversation” because of their young pitching depth.
“When you have pitching like they’ve got, you are supposed to be aggressive. You really are,” he said. “And that’s why Alonso, Soto, Yandy Díaz, take your pick. Any hitter who is a reasonable trade candidate, the Mariners can have access into that conversation. They may not be able to meet the price they’re being asked for those guys because the prices are going to be high, but the Mariners have the pitching that you want, and they also have a team that’s good enough that merits that level of improvement.”
Jonathan India someone to watch
Another rumored trade candidate is 26-year-old Reds infielder Jonathan India, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2021.
In 119 games in 2023, India finished with a .746 OPS and 10 home runs.
“A little bit of an injury issue for him this past year, but in general, he’s been a relatively durable player throughout his professional career,” Morosi said.
— MLB (@MLB) June 17, 2023
Morosi tied the Mariners to India on MLB Network, and he shared why he thinks that could be a fit with Wyman and Bob.
“I think he fits a lot of what the Mariners are looking for,” he said. “They’re a team in Cincinnati that they’ve got Christian Encarnacion-Strand playing third, Spencer Steer at first, the amazing Elly De La Cruz at shortstop and Matt McClain at second. So they’ve got four young cornerstone-type position players (in the infield) … They need probably one more credible starting pitcher. And obviously as you know, they’ve made a lot of moves with the Mariners in the past … I mean, there’s a natural fit there, and I do think that’s one of the conversations that we’re gonna hear a lot about. It didn’t sound like it’s been very aggressive at the moment in terms of actual detailed conversations.”
India would hardly be the big name Mariners fans are hoping for, but Morosi thinks he checks a lot of boxes for Seattle because he’s a right-handed hitter who doesn’t strike out as much as others.
“India, not a perfect player, and there were some trade rumblings about him in the past year, but he is definitely someone who fits the Mariners’ needs,” he said.
The Ohtani question
On top of everything else this offseason, maybe the most-anticipated free-agent ever is on the market. Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is available in free agency after spending the last six years with the Los Angeles Angels.
GRAND SLAM, SHOHEI OHTANI!
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) August 19, 2023
The Mariners made a strong push for Ohtani when he came to MLB ahead of 2018, but ultimately fell short as he picked the Angels. That has naturally led to the thought that the Mariners would be interested in him yet again.
“Obviously Ohtani is the name that we all want to talk about it. I do think the Mariners are somewhere in that conversation,” Morosi said.
Just how “in that conversation” is Seattle, though?
“I would not describe them as a favorite. I think they’re probably in that conversation of five or six teams with a realistic chance of getting him,” Morosi said. “But I think that the Mariners have to proceed as if they’re not going to get him and perhaps pursue aggressively some trade options.”
Blue Jays rumored interest in Suárez
One of the more interesting Mariners-related reports from the GM meetings came from SportsNet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, who wrote that the Toronto Blue Jays are doing their due diligence on the trade market, including inquiring about Seattle third baseman Eugenio Suárez, who took a step forward defensively in 2023 but saw his offensive numbers dip across the board.
— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) July 30, 2023
“I think that is a very interesting report,” Morosi said. “I think that the Mariners would have to be willing to engage on him because it’s not just a matter of adding in your less strikeout-prone bats necessarily at different positions. It’s also maybe eliminating some that are strikeout prone.”
The 2023 Mariners are the only team in MLB history with two players of 200 or more strikeouts. Suárez was one while Hernández, who did not receive a qualifying offer from the Mariners before hitting free agency, was the other.
“If (Suárez is) your one guy who strikes out a bunch, you can live with it. But if you’ve got like three or four guys who strike out a lot the way the Mariners do, it becomes a problem,” Morosi said. “And that’s where if you move him, then that frees up a spot at third base where you could go with more of a contact-oriented bat, and then maybe find a way to find someone like Rhys Hoskins, who we now know is not going to come back to the Phillies because they’ve got (Bryce) Harper playing first base … They’ve got enough guys with power who strike out. You want to get some more guys in who bring a unique skill set, and I think that in and of itself probably makes Geno a bit more expendable now than he was a year ago.”
Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with MLB insider Jon Morosi in the podcast at this link or in the audio player near the top of this post.
More on the Seattle Mariners
• Rowland-Smith’s take on Seattle Mariners’ offseason pressure
• Guardians name Stephen Vogt manager after year as Mariners coach
• Seattle Mariners Notebook: Catcher trade; no offer to Teoscar
• Can the Mariners find their next Nelson Cruz this offseason?
• Morosi: Seattle Mariners should spend at ‘higher level,’ ‘behave accordingly’