BROCK AND SALK

What Huard would rather Mariners do before a Pete Alonso trade

May 7, 2024, 11:35 AM | Updated: 12:25 pm

Seattle Mariners Pete Alonso trade proposal MLB...

Pete Alonso of the New York Mets singles against the Seattle Mariners in 2023. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Just over a month into the season, the Seattle Mariners (19-16) are battling the Texas Rangers (20-16) for the top spot in the American League West, and already a big trade idea that would involve the M’s has grabbed some headlines.

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The MLB season had a rare early-season blockbuster trade last week with the floundering Miami Marlins sending Luis Arráez, who has won a batting title in each of the past two seasons, to the San Diego Padres for a haul of prospects. Naturally, it led to speculation on other deals that could happen this year in baseball.

One person to speculate was former Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, who wrote an article for The Athletic with the headline “Way too early MLB trades I’d like to see happen.” And yes, the Mariners were included.

The trade Bowden wants to see the Seattle Mariners pull off? Rookie starting pitcher Emerson Hancock and first baseman Ty France to the New York Mets for three-time All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso.

Hearing that piques your interest right away, doesn’t it? That was the case for Seattle Sports’ Brock Huard, too, but the interest in this particular Mariners trade idea didn’t stick for him.

“I flushed that,” Huard said of Bowden’s proposal on Tuesday’s edition of Brock and Salk. “Initially I’m like, ‘I like it.’ … And then I’m like, ‘Don’t be an idiot. It’s easy enough for you to be an idiot. Just really think about this for just a little bit.'”

On one hand, the Mariners have second-year starter Bryan Woo nearing a return to the rotation after starting the year on the injured list, making Hancock seem like a trade chip as the sixth pitcher on the depth chart for a five-man rotation. But on the other, Huard said having a sixth MLB-quality starter doesn’t necessarily mean the M’s have a surplus of pitching.

“They have five plus one, with Woo already coming back from an elbow that had to be shut down last August and had to be shut down at the end of March,” Huard said. “… Yeah, you’ve got some guys that could eat some innings at the Triple-A level, but I don’t say you’ve got a lot of pitching. I don’t look at it that way because you you can never, ever, ever have enough.”

There’s another reason Huard isn’t falling over himself to see the Mariners acquire Alonso, who at 29 years old just hit his 200th career home run and is set to be a free agent for the first time at the end of this season.

“I think I’d like to see Ty Locklear before I’d like to see the ‘Polar Bear’ (Alonso),” Huard said.

Tyler Locklear is a 23-year-old first baseman who the Mariners took in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft, and he is so far building on a strong 2023 season with a stellar start to 2024 with Double-A Arkansas. In 25 games entering Tuesday, Locklear is hitting .319 with a four home runs, eight doubles and a .989 OPS.

“If he continues to do what he’s doing at Double-A, I think you’ve got that (option of calling Locklear up),” Huard said. “Now obviously what Pete Alonso’s done is tremendous, and his track record’s amazing and he’s a remarkable, remarkable talent, and Ty Locklear’s not taken one swing in the big leagues. But I think you’ve got that guy that fits some of that role waiting for you, and he’s the one dude down in the minors right now that they were excited about in spring training when we were down there in in February and March, a name that we heard a little bit. ‘Keep a little eye, keep a little watch on this guy. He’s sure doing some good things. He sure looks like a bona fide difference maker.’ And he’s the one dude at the start of the season that in your minor league system is answering the call and is answering the bell.”

More on Pete Alonso as a potential Seattle Mariners trade candidate

What about the current M’s first baseman?

There’s another player who is a part of this conversation that we’ve yet to touch on: Ty France.

An All-Star in 2022, France struggled last season and has yet to really take off at the plate in 2024 despite a concerted effort to make changes to his body and his swing in the offseason. Entering Wednesday, the 29-year-old France is hitting .248 with two homers, eight doubles and a .652 OPS in 32 games. His underlying metrics per Statcast have improved, though, especially his average exit velocity on batted balls in play (76th percentile), hard hit percentage (79th percentile) and sweet spot percentage (89th percentile).

Huard believes May is going to be an important month for France’s future.

“So 50-50-50, right? Fifty games to evaluate the situation, 50 games to start to make those changes, and then 50 games to finish the race,” Huard said. “So you’re 35 in, you’ve got the the rest of this month of May … to give Ty France this opportunity. A guy that reinvented himself and has tried to rebuild his body and his swing and everything else, but dude’s got to get going this month.

“I think he’s smart enough to know – he was at spring training, he looked at this dude (Locklear) that was like 6-3, 240 (pounds) and was a super productive college player and has kind of buzzed through the system as a bat in a really good way and is a good first baseman. Like, ‘Yep, that dude is looming. I know I’ve got to produce. I know how this league works and this business works.’ … I do think a Ty France is on a little bit of a watch simply because there’s a piece behind him that’s a pretty, pretty talented bat.”

Listen to the full conversation from Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., and find podcasts of every show on the Seattle Sports app.

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