Are any Mariners prospects untouchable in trades? Keith Law weighs in

Jun 6, 2024, 11:36 AM

Seattle Mariners Colt Emerson 2023...

Seattle Mariners prospect Colt Emerson takes batting practice at T-Mobile Park in 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The first-place Seattle Mariners are expected to be active in the trade market over the next month or two as they look for hitters to bolster their struggling lineup.

A frequent Mariners trade partner could be in play for bullpen arms

Fortunately for the Mariners, they have a deep collection of talented prospects who could make for enticing trade chips.

Headlined by a handful of young, highly rated position players in the lower levels of the minors, Seattle’s farm system is receiving considerable acclaim from numerous outlets. That includes a recent prospect ranking from The Athletic’s Keith Law, who placed five Mariners in his top 50:

• 10. SS/2B Colt Emerson (age 18)
• 31. SS Cole Young (age 20)
• 36. SS Felnin Celesten (age 18)
• 40. C Harry Ford (age 21)
• 49. OF Jonny Farmelo (age 19)

Law joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Thursday to discuss the Mariners’ talent-laden farm system and how it factors in to potential trades.

Are there any untouchables?

Law said the one prospect he wouldn’t trade under any circumstance is Emerson, an 18-year-old middle infielder whose bat from the left side is extremely advanced for his age.

After being drafted out of high school as the No. 22 overall pick last summer, Emerson was quickly promoted to Low-A Modesto and immediately excelled, despite being more than four years younger than the league’s average hitter. He hit a scorching .361/.470/.506 with a .976 OPS in 20 games with the Nuts, including an 11-for-20 showing in the playoffs during Modesto’s run to the California League title.

“Emerson is the only guy I would say, ‘We’re not trading him,'” Law said. “There’s too much upside. He’s too advanced. I think he’s gonna move really, really quickly. I can’t imagine the player (as a trade return) who would justify doing that.”

Insider on Colt Emerson’s fast rise: ‘He’s an extreme outlier’

Emerson’s 2024 season has been interrupted by a pair of injuries, but he’s still hitting .271 with an .855 OPS in 19 games at Modesto. Law said he could ultimately become a top-five prospect as other prospects above him graduate to the majors.

“He’s really advanced,” Law said. “Scouts who saw him for the first time in pro ball (last year) said, ‘Holy cow, how did this guy go 22nd in the draft?’ … If I’m the Mariners, he’s the one I’m holding onto. The other guys, I might discuss in the right trade. But you don’t trade Colt Emerson.”

A tough move

Aside from Emerson, Law said every other Mariners prospect has to at least be in the discussion for potential trades. That includes the supremely talented Celesten, an 18-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic who inked a reported $4.7 million signing bonus as the headliner of Seattle’s 2023 international free agent class.

Celesten missed all of last season with a hamstring strain, but is off to a blazing start in his pro debut this year. He is hitting .321/.408/.512 with two home runs, two triples, six doubles and a .920 OPS over 22 games in the Arizona Complex League.

“I’m probably not trading him at all, to be honest, but I’m certainly not trading him for a rental,” said Law, who worked in the Toronto Blue Jays baseball operations department for a period in the 2000s. “If I’m getting a core position player who has two-plus years of control remaining, I’d consider it. Yes, I think Celesten is a star, but you’ve gotta win now too. There is absolutely a value to getting players who help your club right away.

“He’s playing unbelievably well. He may be a superstar, and it may be you just really don’t want to trade him either. But also, I’ve been in the front office. You can’t go into this discussion and say, ‘Here are eight players we’re not trading.’ … Don’t come to the party if you’re not willing to dance.”

Listen to the full conversation with Keith Law at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6-10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz optimistic about ailing back
• Bump: Mariners moving top prospect to ‘pen is ‘move I trust’
Why Mariners are in position to ‘separate’ themselves in AL West
• Mariners Insider: How M’s will use Víctor Robles; change for Kirby
• Passan: Who Seattle Mariners could target at trade deadline

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