Mariners GM takes us inside MLB trade market and their expectations

May 31, 2024, 11:49 AM

There has been an inordinate amount of attention put on trade speculation for the Seattle Mariners early on this season, and it’s not hard to figure out why.

Salk: The clear trade route for Mariners to capitalize on this year

The Mariners have spent much of the year so far in the driver’s seat in the American League West, as the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers and the three-time defending division champion Houston Astros have both stumbled to below-.500 records a third of the way into the year. That means there’s an opportunity in front of the M’s, but they also have some things that need to be addressed.

Even though Seattle enters Friday with a 31-27 record, it ranks tied for 28th out of the 30 MLB teams with just 211 runs scored. The M’s are also 28th in team batting average (.221) and OPS (.656), 27th in on-base percentage (.295), and have struck out more than any other team in baseball (594). Contrast that with a pitching staff that leads MLB in WHIP (1.08) and is fourth in opponent batting average (.219) while ranking second in starting pitcher innings (337) and second-least in reliever innings (173 1/3), and it all adds up. The M’s have the pitching to go far, but offensive help is still needed to do something special this year.

None of this is lost on Mariners general manager Justin Hollander, who joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy at T-Mobile Park on Thursday and was candid about the team’s offensive struggles. He also provided a view into where the MLB trade market is right now with the July 30 trade deadline still two months away, and where the Mariners’ heads are on that front.

“We anticipate this team being a team that sort of tells us that we need to add at the deadline,” Hollander said. “Whether that’s July 30 or July 15, I don’t think we’re waiting for an artificial day on the calendar. When the opportunities present themselves, I think we need to be really open-minded to adding to this group and making sure that we give them every chance to win the division, go deep in the playoffs. Achieve the goals that we have.”

More: How could first-place Mariners address their need for offense?

That being said, don’t expect anything all that soon – though Hollander did indicate there has been more willingness from other teams to talk moves just this week.

“The trade conversations in May are expensive,” he said. “It’s really hard this time of year to get teams to be motivated to trade off major league pieces. It’s just, it’s very early in the season. I don’t think anybody really wants to wave the the white flag, or teams don’t typically do in the middle or the end of May. I think now teams are starting to pick up the phone and at least have, like, feeler conversations. ‘If things don’t get better over the next couple of weeks, we would be willing to…’ – that sort of thing is starting to happen over the last three or four days, we’ve noticed.”

The AL West effect

Hollander is far from counting out the Rangers and Astros despite their slow starts, which could intensify Seattle’s desire to make additions.

Passan: M’s have prospects for trades to take advantage of ‘wide open’ AL

“I don’t think the teams in the AL West that people had presumed would be contenders for the division – so us, the Astros, the Rangers – I don’t think any of us have played to our potential thus far. I also think that all three of those teams, us at the top of the list, have played very challenging schedules, sort of playing the best in baseball a lot over the first couple months of the season. I think over the next couple of months, the division is going to get very challenging.

“I don’t think we can just sit back on our hands and say, ‘Ah, somebody’s gonna win the division with like 83 or 84 wins.’ I don’t think that – those teams are too talented. The Astros are still the Astros. Maybe not quite the record that they’ve had over the previous years. I look across the diamond, I just don’t see them going away. I think there’s a run there for sure. The Rangers are the defending World Series champs and they’re pretty beat up right now. Those guys will get back and get healthy, and it’s going to be a challenge. So I think our (division) is going to be really good by the time that we get to the dog days of summer in August and September, and we need to be prepared for that.”

Because of that, Hollander said he thinks the Mariners this season will “improve our team over time with either internal additions or additions externally,” and the same goes for the Astros and Rangers.

Will Mariners’ AL West rivals turn it around? Morosi weighs in

“I wouldn’t expect any of those teams to be sellers at the deadline,” he said. “I think all of us have big aspirations and we’ll continue to pursue those aspirations.”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Seattle Mariners general manager Justin Hollander in the podcast at this link or in either of the video or audio players near the top of this post. Catch Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

More Mariners coverage from Seattle Sports

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Mariners GM takes us inside MLB trade market and their expectations